A “drastic improvement” is what Charles Hays’ girls soccer coach Kyla Ragan called her team’s performance this past weekend and her description was more than apt.
Despite losing their Saturday morning game against Terrace’s Caledonia Kermodes 2-0, the team had to have felt better about that match when comparing it to a bout two weeks ago, when the Rainmakers only had one substitute to work with and fell 6-0 in a game where Caledonia (CAL) got stronger as the match wore on.
Charles Hays’ second game on Saturday against Kitimat’s Mount Elizabeth Secondary School (MESS) proved to be their strongest yet, as most of the forward corps and even their goaltender, Harjyot Sidhu, battled through some injuries to almost topple the visiting Eagles.
“They’re all fighting through it,” said Ragan.
“We’ll keep rotating players and keep them playing as long as we can.”
A heartbreaking late goal by the Eagles erased the strongest half the Rainmakers have played yet and elevated MESS to a 2-1 win, dropping the ‘Makers record to 0-2.
Ten minutes into the match, standout forward Charlotte Kobza broke through Kitimat’s defence, cut to the middle and launched a shot from inside the box. The Eagles’ goalie got a piece of it, but the ball was too high for her outstretched arms and it deflected in just under the crossbar for the Rainmakers’ first lead of the season.
That goal stood up until approximately 10 minutes later, when some nice ball control by the Eagles in Charles Hays’ zone led to furious pressure in Sidhu’s crease. The goalie leapt onto the ball to prevent MESS’ forwards from reaching it, but as Sidhu rose to her feet, the slippery ball fell from her hands, and Kitimat capitalized for the 1-1 tie at the half.
But that didn’t discourage the home side, as right from the start of the whistle in the second half, the Rainmakers dominated, possessing the ball for minutes at a time in Kitimat’s end and earning six or seven corner kicks from their pressure up front.
Suttira Johansen took every one of them and placed the ball in a flurry of blue and black shirts in the crease almost every time.
Kobza, Johansen, Brittany Waite, Reagan Pomponio, Tanveen Sahdra and Katerina Samaras formed a lethal forward group and forced the Kitimat netminder to make some outstanding saves to keep the game deadlocked at one goal apiece.
Pomponio was tripped up on the right wing inside the box and earned herself a penalty kick, to which the Eagles’ goalkeeper made a good save on. Shortly after, a breakout by MESS resulted in a goal after a rising shot beat Sidhu. Overall, it was a terrific game for the ‘Makers despite the loss.
“The girls are playing strong now. They’re playing as a team and they’re talking to each other. So we’re getting good plays out there,” said Ragan.
“They know their strengths and what they’re working on, so they’re playing to their strengths … positionally they know where each other are know and they know where to stop the ball and pass it to the spaces they’re supposed to, so that’s a drastic improvement from our last game even.”
Some great midfield presence from Emily Cavin and Taylor Green and good sweeping duties from Medalana Jardim and stalwart defensive play from the back end helped the ‘Makers improve in every aspect of the game.
The Rainmakers will nurse some injuries in the next few days and are next in action this weekend at Terrace when they take on Caledonia, Mount Elizabeth and possibly Queen Charlotte and Smithers for the season’s second play day.