“We’ve been in the open division twice, before this year, and both times Archbishop Mitty was the team that knocked us out. That’s one of the reasons why this game meant so much to us,” M-A Girls’ Soccer Coach Jason Luce said.

On February 18th, the M-A girls’ soccer team played the Archbishop Mitty Monarchs in the first round of Open-Division CCS Playoffs. The Bears won 1-0 to advance to the semi-finals. 

Mitty took the first half kick-off but turned over the ball within ten seconds of play. From the get-go, the Bears had majority possession and momentum for the first ten minutes.

Just eight minutes after kickoff, a Mitty defender cleared the ball poorly, dribbling it right outside the box. Senior Susie Wagstaff shot with her left foot and scored in the bottom right corner, making the score 1-0 M-A. 

The Bears had many attempts at through balls, but all were saved by Mitty’s goalie. A quick turnover in the midfield from M-A led to the first shot for the Monarchs, however senior goalkeeper Gigi Edwards saved it with ease. 

The battles in the middle were the determining factor throughout the whole game. The rest of the first half was back-and-forth offense between the Monarchs and the Bears. Each teams’ defense was tested but remained strong. 

Freshman Samantha Ruiz said, “We did really good on our defensive attack. We battled to the end of it and didn’t give up. We defended how we needed to defend and we played double sixes so it gave us more of a defensive advantage. We played really well as a team together, and we wanted to win more than they did.”

Team celebrates win after the final whistle

The second half started with a Bears’ kick off and an early foul on the Bears. A Mitty attacker had a breakaway but Edwards saved the one-on-one to keep the Bears’ lead. 

The Bears’ defense was integral to keeping their 1-0 lead. Throughout the whole second half, the Monarchs had momentum. They had dangerous plays through the side and the majority of the Bears’ possession was off counterattacks. However, the Bears did not let up. Their defense stayed strong and held a high line to get offsides and get to long balls before the Monarchs. 

Edwards said, “Our mindset was pretty defensive. We knew that their offense was going to come out and kill us, so we went into it thinking we needed to finish whatever few opportunities we had and then just defend till the end.”

With 20 minutes left in the game, it was clear that Mitty was getting desperate for a goal. Every chance they got they forced the ball up top to try to score. In just three minutes, Edwards made more than three saves. Despite the Mitty offense having opportunities in the last minutes of the game, the Bears played smart and obtained a 1-0 win, advancing to the Open Division semi-finals.

Mitty Head Coach JT Hanley said, “We came into the game looking to get control in the midfield and, to M-A’s credit, in the first half they did a good job of getting to balls before us, being first to the 50-50 balls and keeping us from establishing that.” 

Wagstaff said, “We knew at the beginning Mitty was going to be a good opponent for us. We overpassed all the expectations set on us being this public school in a very competitive league. To get here in the first place is an incredible honor, which is why we want to make these 80 minutes that we have together the best moments that we can.”

Edwards also added, “I don’t think anyone thought we were going to make it this far. Everyone was telling me that we weren’t gonna win and all this stuff, so we came out and showed them why we deserve to win it, and that’s all I can ever hope for.”

The Bears retake the field on Wednesday at 3 to play the Mountain View Spartans. 

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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