Julio Lara/Daily Journal
Notre Dame-Belmont’s Jessica Parque, right, dribbles around a
Mercy-Burlingame defender during the Tigers’ 1-0 win over th Cherokees.
On paper, Thursday afternoon’s game for the Notre Dame-Belmont soccer team presented them with a really good opportunity.
For weeks, the results have shown the Tigers, behind the play of a couple promising and exciting young stars, put up big scoring numbers. But Thursday, Sequoia High School rolled into Belmont and presented Notre Dame with arguably its toughest test of the young season — the opportunity was to show the Tigers’ results were a product of their play and not the lack of skill from their opponents.
And behind a Jessica Parque goal late in the first half, the Tigers passed that test. Parque one-timed a nice pass by Luca Deza with 12 minutes to play in the initial period and that was the difference in a 1-0 victory for the Tigers.
Notre Dame is 5-0.
“We had 15 to 20 shots on goal in the first half and 12 to 15 in the second half. The ball just wasn’t going in,” said Notre Dame head coach Matt Dodge. “But their goalkeepers played extremely well. You have to give them credit. We’re getting better though, and things are really starting to click. And when you put that many shots on goals, eventually the goals are going to come.”
They had been coming in bunches — in four previous games, Notre Dame had averaged eight a game. And although the deciding margin was at the minimum, it didn’t change the fact that, perhaps more promising for the Tigers, their defense continues to play at the stingiest of levels.
It’s been five games in the new season, and Notre Dame has yet to allow a goal.
“It’s great,” Dodge said. “But, we’re going to have to score more goals if we’re going to have to keep up with the rest of the WCAL.”
Notre Dame created a bunch of chances in the first half, fueled primarily by its flank play. They knocked on the Sequoia goal several times but it wasn’t until Deza made a pretty inside spin move on two Cherokee defenders and then dropped the ball off to Parque that they capitalized. The goal is Parque’s 12th of the season.
The second half was a lot more even-matched. Sequoia came out more aggressively and had their fair share of opportunities to equalize.
“I definitely think we made some good adjustments,” said Sequoia head coach Melissa Schmidt. “Defensively, we did some things to slow them down on the outside. And offensively, I thought we finally started putting some good passes together. We were working together. We just have to start being more consistent.”
Consistency was the common thread amongst both coaches after the game.
Schmidt said the early part of the new season has her team trying to figure each other out and thus, build invaluable on-field chemistry that will translate to more scoring opportunities.
Dodge, on the other hand, has his two stud offensive players in Parque and Deza — who have combined for 20 goals and five assists on the young season already — so there have been plenty of scoring chances. But for the Tigers to succeed once the always-tough West Catholic Athletic League schedule rolls around, Notre Dame will need its less-seasoned players to start trusting themselves and stepping up so the bulk of the offensive load doesn’t just fall on Parque and Deza.