Lady Cubs End Marathon with Two Wins, Qualify for the Post-season
Two Saturdays ago in a steady downpour St. Bernard’s came to town and beat the Lady Cubs in a wild high-scoring contest 6-4. The Cubs got on the board first when junior striker Olivia Baffert took advantage of a defensive miscue and poked the ball into the back of an undefended net.St. Bernard’s answered with 3 goals in the half, but South Fork leveled the score each time, as Baffert completed a first half hat-trick, making a penalty kick awarded after a hand ball in the box, and then collecting a long pass from junior fullback Stef Bautista and beating the defender to put a high arcing shot over the reach of the Crusader goalie. (pictured above)
The score was 3-3 at the half, but St. Bernard’s took advantage of South Fork defensive errors in the second half and went ahead 6-3. Late in the game, as the Cubs continued to attack, sophomore striker Kylie Messenger took a corner kick and senior midfielder Noelia Alatorre headed it into the top corner of the St. Bernard’s net for what one of the officials called “the most beautiful goal” he’d seen all season. The final score was 6-4.
Two days later the Cubs hosted Arcata and lost 4-1. But for the first time ever, the Lady Cubs scored first on Arcata and held a lead for about ten minutes over the perennial league-leading big-school powerhouse. Senior midfielder Victoria Van Meter sent a perfect through ball to sophomore striker Kylie Messenger who hit a long range bullet into the near post top corner, completely freezing the Arcata keeper. It was Messenger’s team-leading 7th goal of the season, and Van Meter’s team-leading 6th assist.The Cubs, playing with just 10 players, battled hard for the remainder of the game, but Arcata’s huge bench wore them down, and the Tigers scored four times before the final whistle.
Two days later the Cubs hosted Fortuna, and fell 5-0. The Cubs played more offense against Fortuna this time than when the two teams matched up earlier in the season in a 4-0 loss, but the Lady Huskies are grooming themselves for contention for their first League Championship in years, and did not let up on their steady attack.
Junior Goalie Daphne Hobbs, standing in for the injured Alex Tapia, made ten saves in the game.
Two days later the Cubs traveled to Upper Lake for their final small-school contest of the season, on a do-or-die assignment to achieve post-season qualification. Slow out of the gate the Cubs were lucky to score first when Baffert stole the ball from an Upper Lake defender and beat the keeper 1V1 for a 1-0 lead about ten minutes into the game.
The Cubs were shocked by Upper Lake’s answer of two quick goals, both long uncontested shots from the right side, sailing over the fingertips of freshman goalie Paloma Avilez. Down 2-1 at the half with the season on the line, the Cubs regrouped and came out with a strong attack in the second half. Junior midfielder and striker Alyssa Rogers scored an unassisted goal (her fifth of the season) on a long arcing shot from the right side, and assisted Baffert on her second goal of the day (and sixth of the season) for the winner.
The very next day, playing their 5th game in 8 days the Cubs needed just one goal to prevail over Del Norte 1-0. The goal came about 10 minutes into the first half when Baffert took the ball down the left touch line and crossed to Messenger who used her strength to hang on and get just enough on her shot to get it past the Del Norte keeper.
The Cubs outshot Del Norte 11-8 and Hobbs had 3 saves in a contest that saw weary South Fork players digging deep to hang on for the win. Outstanding contributions from midfielders Van Meter and sophomores Michael Perricone and Sophia Wallace Boyd buoyed the defense and served the offense throughout the contest, and the dynamic midfield duo of Van Meter and Alatorre sent the “never give up” message loud and clear to their exhausted teammates via their tireless play and work ethic. Senior sweeper Raya Mahony was flawless on the back line.
The Lady Cubs will wrap up regular season play at Arcata on Wednesday with a 4:30 kick-off at the Community Center. On Sunday the North Coast Section Championship Tournament seeding will take place and the Cubs will learn who they will face in the first round, likely to be played Wednesday, November 2.