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The Paly Voice

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The Paly Voice

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Recap: Girls’ varsity soccer defeats Gunn in 3-2 thriller

In thrilling fashion, the Palo Alto High School girls’ varsity soccer team stole away a 3-2 win against rival Gunn High School last Saturday at home.

With two minutes left in the match, Paly would have the last laugh. After trading chances in the final few minutes, a low cross from the right side somehow leaked down to the far post. Running onto it was none other than sophomore Jacey Pederson, completely unmarked. Pederson powered it into the bottom left corner in one motion and rushed to celebrate her game-winning goal with her teammates.

In the two teams’ only meeting of the season (barring a playoff matchup), Paly never trailed its rival. Underclassman standout Pederson returned to the field for the first time this season after sitting out four matches due to ineligibility stemming from her participation in a national team practice last winter.

Pederson’s impact on the game was noticeable from the get-go. She was electric on the ball, beating multiple defenders each time she had possession with either pace or technique. Every time Pederson made one of her slicing runs through Gunn’s defense, the possibility of a goal lurked.

Paly’s first goal was on a set piece. After earning a corner kick, senior defender Julia Kwasnick was left unmarked in the box and powerfully headed home Paly’s first goal at the seven minute mark. This early goal set the tone for Paly’s continued upper hand throughout the match.

The action lulled for a moment before Gunn struck with its first legitimate chance of the match at the 26 minute mark. However,  the ball was cleared off the line by a Paly defender and the score remained 1-0.

Gunn threatened again at the 31 minute mark when Gunn senior forward Caroline Johnson played a through-ball in to junior Kastania Dahlen. Paly’s keeper rushed out and reached the through ball first before a defender cleared again in a frenzy. For the duration of the match, the two teams traded chances, the momentum constantly seesawing back and forth. If not for Gunn’s early defensive miscue that allowed Kwasnick to head home Paly’s first goal, the game could certainly have gone either way.

At 40 minutes, the whistle sounded for halftime, the score remaining 1-0 in Paly’s favor.

The two teams hit the ground running once the second half started. After a sublime save in the 50th minute by the Gunn keeper, Gunn tied up the game with its first goal. Gunn senior Ming Ming Liu received a through ball on a breakaway in the 54th minute and slotted it home into the bottom right corner with an excellent bit of finishing. Finally, Gunn’s continuous pressure had paid off.

Gunn didn’t let off the gas, forcing a save from Paly’s keeper on a well-taken free kick. At this point, Gunn had was back in the game and threatened to seize control.

Paly sophomore forward Heidi Moeser, however, had other plans. In a brilliant show of technique, Moeser received the ball on a breakaway to her left before cutting it back on a dime, leaving the Gunn defender helpless in her attempts to block the ensuing shot. Moeser curled the ball into the top right corner of the net, regaining Paly’s lead. The score stood at 2-1, Paly.

At this point in the second half, Pederson really started to make her mark on the game. On every run with the ball, Pederson beat at least one Gunn defender. Pederson was an instrumental part of Paly’s offense in the second half, threatening to score or create a chance for Paly every time she was involved.

Pederson played a one-two with her teammate and received the ball in the middle of the box, feinted past a Gunn defender and shot with her right. The ball skidded just wide.

Out of the blue, Gunn again tied up the match in the 63rd minute. Gunn sophomore Kia Green scored an absolute peach from distance. From well outside the box, Green unleashed a left-footed shot that left Paly’s keeper flatfooted. She could only watch as the ball soared into the top left corner, knotting the match up at 2-2. In the closing moments, Pederson’s goal broke the deadlock and sent Paly on its way to 3-2 nail-biting victory.

In what was a truly seesaw match, the game could have gone either way had Gunn tightened up its marking on defense. All in all, it was an exciting match and another scintillating matchup in this storied rival in which both sides played excellently.

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Frankie Comey, Author

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