Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Mills’ April French, left, and Marie Cazares celebrate French’s goal during the Vikings’ 2-0 win over El Camino in a PAL Ocean Division game Thursday.
For 64 minutes on Thursday, it looked like the soccer gods were up to their head-scratching ways again.
The last time El Camino and Mills high schools found themselves in a girls’ soccer match, the Vikings had their way with the Colts to the tune of 7-0. So coming into Thursday’s latest rematch, a soccer game controlled by the Vikings was something everyone was expecting.
But for 64 minutes, the soccer gods, and the Colts, had something else in mind. Wave after wave of Mills attack was thwarted by a wide shot, El Camino keeper Clara Althaus or the far side referee’s offside flag.
And when El Camino’s Rebecca Campos hit the Mills crossbar with 13 minutes left in a 0-0 tie, it looked like the soccer gods were going to hook the Colts up big time for all the improvements they had made during practice in anticipation of a rematch with the Vikings.
But, as it turned out, Mills had one too many attacks that El Camino could not handle.
Caitlin Ung sprung April French on a run down the left side that the junior — who in only a few weeks into her new role as a forward — powered into the box and finally beat Althaus low and to her left to give the Vikings a 1-0 with 10 minutes left in the game.
French also had a hand in another Mills goal minutes later and her late-game heroic were the key in the Vikings’ 2-0 victory.
“We did have some scoring opportunities, but we were still flat,” said Mills head coach Caroline Tiziani about her team’s first-half performance. “And we didn’t come out as intense as I want and would expect. And that’s one of the things this year: having good warm-ups so we come out on the field ready to play. I told them, ‘Hey, if you do it again, this is going to happen’ and we go 0-0 at half. I’m glad they pulled it out — 2-0 is quality. Two great goals.
“I’ve been part of games where you shot 50 times, 10 are on frame, some hit the post but nothing goes in. The problem is, you have to make the ball go into the back of the net. You have to make better decisions. We have to execute. It’s a learning experience all the way around.”
“I’m so proud of my girls,” said El Camino head coach Rachel Lauderdale. “We’ve been really improving. The last time we played Mills in the preseason we lost 7-0 and this time, we came out and played strong. We held them to the last 15 minutes of the game. We had a couple of chances. We held our own.”
It took an above-average effort by Althaus for El Camino to stay in the game during the first half. Mills’ Ty Harames, Marie Cazares and Saige Daniel had great scoring opportunities throughout the period — with a couple shots finding iron and others requiring high saves by the Colts keeper.
El Camino couldn’t muster too much on offense. The majority of their chances came from solid midfield play by Emily Ramirez and Rebecca Cruise.
With Mills not capitalizing on their opportunities, El Camino gained confidence and with 13 minutes left, they almost pulled off a stunning goal when Campos was mere inches from finding twine.
But it wasn’t meant to be for the Colts. Ung dribbled up from her defensive post, looked up and found French. The junior then ran onto the ball, into the box and did what Mills hadn’t done all day — test Althaus low.
“She put together a key goal for us,” Tiziani said. “Right person. Right time. Good for the team. We’ll take it.”
A couple minutes after that, it was French who found Cazares on a through ball that the sophomore willed into goal after Althaus made the initial save — the shot still had just enough mustard to inch over the goal line.
While the offensive heroics saved Mills in the end, it was a worthwhile performance by the defense that kept the Vikings in the game.
“The defense is another work in progress,” Tiziani said. “They’re young — three sophomores. It’s a faster game and their confidence level is something we’re working on.”
“They learn as much from each other as they do from me” Lauderdale said. “We push them in practice but they all talk and learn from each other. And this just shows how much they want to improve.”
Menlo-Atherton1, Burlingame 1
The Bears remain unbeaten at 3-0-1 in league play and 7-0-3 overall after a draw with the Panthers.
M-A got on the board late in the first half when sophomore Kelsey Reed served a corner kick into the box that was finished by freshman Katie Guenin in the 32nd minute.
The Bears outshot the Panthers 7-3 in the first half.
In the second half, the Bears again managed seven shots on the Burlingame goal.
Burlingame was the benefactor of a M-A miscue in the second half when a deflected shot resulted in an own goal equalizer.
In other Bay Division scores, Hillsdale doubled up San Mateo 4-2.
Menlo School 6, Castilleja 0
Senior midfielder Emma LaPorte scored twice in the opening five minutes and the Knights scored four times in the first half to earn an easy victory over the Gators.
Sienna Stritter also scored twice while Amanda McFarland and Jamie Corley each had a goal in the win.
Zoe Enright assisted on a pair of goals for Menlo (3-0-1 WBAL, 7-3-2 overall). Chandler Wickers also recorded an assist.