On Thursday, the girls soccer team hosted their rival, the Woodside Wildcats, with the game ending 1-1. 

The Bears took the kick-off, and the game was fast-paced from the start. It was clear both teams had something to prove. One captain, senior goalkeeper Gigi Edwards, said, “M-A vs. Woodside has always been a huge rivalry. A lot of the people on the other team we know because they live across town so it was really important for us to beat them.”

The Bears’ tactic of a high press proved successful when the Woodside goalie punted the ball and senior Kate Nelson headed it out to junior Valerie Latu-Nava who passed it to sophomore Alessia Bolaños. With the goalkeeper out of position, Bolaños volleyed the ball over the goalie’s head and earned the Bears a lead five minutes in. 

After the goal, the Bears carried on their momentum, but remained calm and continued passing around the Wildcat defenders. Despite trailing, the Wildcats did not give up but instead increased their aggression. Many fouls resulted in the crowd roaring for yellow cards. 

With 15 minutes left in the half, the crowd got their wish as the referee gave senior Wildcat Siena Bruno a yellow card for shoving senior Jimena Sandoval to the ground. Bolaños took the free kick and hit the football goal post. The crowd’s “oos” and “ahs” echoed throughout the field. 

The Wildcats responded with a dangerous counterattack. The Woodside attack broke down the Bears’ defense as they played a through ball to Wildcat Mariam Yusuf. Junior Avery Galles battled with Yusuf until she shot wide. Galles later said, “Our defense killed it. We tried our best. Their really good forwards broke us down and they had some really good chances, but we held them there.” The first half ended with the Bear leading 1-0.

The Wildcats took the kick-off for the second half. The half had an exhilarating start: Latu-Nava received a ball played over the Wildcat defense and almost scored, but the Woodside goalie, senior Herrera Cassandra, stepped up to catch the ball before Latu-Nava kicked it. 

With 20 minutes left in the game, Yusuf dribbled through the M-A defense, taking a shot from a difficult angle — almost parallel to the goal post — and scored in the top left corner. The Bears and Wildcats were now tied 1-1.

In spite of the Wildcats’ goal, M-A continued to play with patience by passing and building through the defense. The rest of the game consisted of back-and-forth shots between the two teams. The Wildcats took two shots from the top of the box that Edwards easily saved.

M-A responded by playing plenty of balls from the sides into the middle. With nine minutes left, Latu-Nava dribbled down the left to break down the Wildcat defense, but was shut down before she was able to do any further damage. 

Nelson said, “We started off really strong in the first half, but we did get a little bit tired. It’s hard coming off of the winter break for us to go the whole game.”

Senior Susie Wagstaff, another captain, said, “I think we came out here with a lot of heart. We really had our head in, wanting to prove something to the rest of the teams in this league, that we are this up-and-coming team, especially in the Central Coast Section.”

Bolaños also added, “I have high expectations for this season. We have really good chemistry and I think all we need is more practice and a little more resistance running around the field outside from having the ball.”

Coach Jason Luce commented as well, saying, “We need to improve on transitions from offense to defensive shape, but I have high hopes for this team. They are one of the best teams I have seen in my 12 years of being here.” This M-A team is currently undefeated and looking towards a bright future.”

The Bears return to the pitch on Tuesday against the Hillsdale Knights. 

Ishy Mishra is a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School and is in her first year in journalism. She enjoys writing opinion pieces on a variety of things and about M-A sports teams. She enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and her dog, Monty. She also plays lacrosse, is part of leadership and loves going to all the M-A sports games to support her community.

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