Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Hillsdale's Kayla Coleman, right, maintains her balance after avoiding a challenge from a
Sequoia defender during the Knights' 3-0 win over the Cherokees.
For weeks now, other Peninsula Athletic League girls’ soccer coaches have been quick to point out that no one should overlook Hillsdale High School.
Sure, the Knights spent all of last season taking their lumps as the newest member of the Bay Division and wound up with a record that showed that. But 2014 is a different season and a different attitude for the Knights.
Tuesday afternoon against Sequoia High School, Hillsdale got the win they had been looking for to solidify some sort of legitimacy in the very tough Bay Division. By scoring three goals in the second half, the Knights earned their first victory of the PAL season.
“We’re more legitimate,” said Hillsdale head coach Samia Shoman. “We feel good about that. We needed a win. Especially at the beginning of the year and after last year when we chased, chased, chased.”
The Knights have always had that predator mentality with Shoman at the helm and two years ago, they turned it into an Ocean Division championship. But last year, as the new girls on the block, the wins were scarce. Now, three games into the 2014 PAL schedule, coaches in the Bay know they can’t take it lightly when they play the Knights and on Tuesday Hillsdale showed exactly why.
For the first half, Sequoia and Hillsdale could not capitalize on their opporutunities. Forty minutes in and both teams showed their strengths — Hillsdale on the build up and Sequoia on the counterattack. Still, none could get on the scoreboard.
But in the second half, the Knights looked like an unstoppable force and seized every one of their opportunities.
“To win games, you need to put it in the back of the net,” Shoman said of her halftime speech to her players. “You need to play 80 minutes to win games. We are very good at building attack, possession, but we need to get goals to win games.”
Hillsdale took Shoman’s message to heart and scored goals in all sorts of ways.
“They came out harder than us in the second half,” said Sequoia head coach Melissa Schmidt. “We made some mistakes in the second half, we had some lapses and we paid for them. And that made the difference.”
The first lapse was a product of Tayla Kelley and a world-class stutter-step that froze her defender long enough to burn past her on a run down the right side. Instead of looking for a cross, Kelley made a sharp cut, headed straight to goal and beat the Sequoia keeper near post for a superb goal to make it 1-0.
Minutes later, Valerie Chiang and Kayla Coleman hooked up for another pretty Hillsdale goal. Chiang sent in a beautiful vertical cross into the penalty box. Coleman hustled and beat the Sequoia keeper to a spot, juggled around her and was rewarded with the wide open spaces of the Cherokees’ goal. Coleman scored the easiest goal of her life to make it 2-0.
“Both of those balls came from our back line,” Shoman said. “So that’s something we really work on. We don’t have that one person that is going to score a bunch of goals like we did a few years ago. We have a lot of players that have the ability to score goals for us.”
Hillsdale wasn’t done — and their last goal was a special one. Chiang completed the rare Olympico Goal by hitting a left-footed corner kick into the Sequoia net on the fly that made it 3-0 and sealed the deal for the Knights.
For their part, the Cherokees did threaten the Hillsdale goal. But their best chances came in the first half and the Knights’ backline settled in quite nicely in the second to thwart any real threats.
“I don’t feel like that was a 3-0 game,” Schmidt said. “I think they capitalized on their opportunities and we didn’t.”
Crystal Springs 5, Summit Prep 1
Leading just 1-0 at halftime, the Gryphons opened up West Bay Athletic League play with a convincing 5-1 victory over Summit Prep.
Crystal Springs Upland Schools is now 4-3 overall.
Natasha Thornton-Clark recorded a hat trick by scoring goals in the 26th, 65th and 74th minutes. Megan Duncanson scored the other two goals, both assisted by Christina Langmack.
Menlo School 6, Pinewood 0
Sienna Stritter recorded a hat trick and Chandler Wickers added a pair of goals and Zoe Enright helped with three assists as the Knights drilled the Panthers in WBAL action Tuesday.
Jamie Corley scored Menlo’s other goal, while Alexandra Walker and Mikayla Stabile also added assists in the victory.
Goalkeeper Schuyler Tilney-Volk had four saves to earn her second shutout of the season.