Story by Noah Kuhn
Associate News Editor
Photos by Sean Jin
Girls soccer put up a strong fight against Oaks Christian, a Division II team, but ultimately succumbed to the Lions, 3-2, on Saturday, Dec. 7.
The Tigers played their traditional 4-3-3 formation but stationed the defensive line farther back to account for the imposing Lion offense. South Pas fell behind 3-1 and attempted a late surge. Senior Andrea Castellanos curled a 40-yard free kick into the back of the net to bring the Tigers within one goal. However, they would fail to equalize and dropped to 1-1 on the season.
Oaks Christian struck first in the fourth minute, but South Pas, under the swift pace of junior striker Kaylee Wallace leveled the score a minute later with a tight angle shot to the bottom corner. Both teams had great passes and connected well moving forward, making for a crisp start filled with chances.
However, Oaks Christian’s constant pressure soon overwhelmed South Pas and they struggled to clear the ball. When the Tigers did move forward, Castellanos’ speed and physicality were central to keeping possession and creating scoring opportunities. Senior co-captain Chloe Kim also contributed strong passes, but the team as a whole were unable to break through the Lions’ back line.
Freshmen defenders Daniella Lat and Lia Alonso calmed South Pas’ nerves during opposing attacks with their cool composure and gritty determination to guard the goal. However, the Lions breached the Tiger defense right before the halftime whistle, adding a burden for the team to discuss during the break.
The Tigers had a good chance early into the second half when Wallace sent senior co-captain Corey Segal through on goal, but her shot was blocked by an opposing defender.
Junior keeper Kate Buckley came out to intercept a long pass, but missed the ball, fouled the Lion attacker, and gave Oaks Christian a penalty kick. Buckley was inches away from saving the slicing shot, but her dive aggravated a pre-existing lat muscle injury on her side, forcing fellow junior Andrea Zarazua to fill in.
The Lions intensified their pressure, pushing South Pas into panic mode. However, this craze invigorated sophomore Ava Dunville who chased down through passes on the left side.
In the midst of chaos, Castellanos emerged for the most spectacular moment of the game: a jaw-dropping free kick that sailed over the Oaks Christian keeper and into the top left corner of the goal.
Castellanos also had another set piece opportunity to equalize the game with two minutes to go, but the ball flew inches above the crossbar. As the clock inched toward full time, Wallace severely hurt her back in the box after a harsh Lion foul. The Tigers were not awarded a penalty and fell, 3-2.
“I feel good about the game and the team did great work,” Castellanos said. “We just need to improve our passes and how we play together.”
The Tigers will clash with Sierra Vista away on Tuesday, Dec. 10 in their third preseason match.