Julio Lara/Daily Journal
San Mateo's Brenda Flores fights off a defender.
The once-heated rivalry between the San Mateo and Aragon girls’ soccer teams has simmered down a bit over the years. But that doesn’t mean the two sides don’t produce some exciting and intense soccer when they hook up.
In the latest chapter of the rivalry, the Bearcarts, behind Brenda Flores’ play on the left flank, overcame a 1-0 deficit by scoring two goals in the second half to come away with the 2-1 victory.
Aragon went up 1-0 in the 32nd minute but lost the ability to build a solid attack in the second half. That opened the door for an opportunistic Flores and Katie Wischer to forge ahead for the win.
“She was great on both the goals,” said San Mateo head coach Carlos Bover. “When she’s on she’s … difficult to stop. You need someone that can run and can get into a position to stop her and she had a great game today. She hasn’t been playing at her best, but today she came out and she was really on.”
Flores has long shown great potential and nose for the goal and in her senior season, those who follow the Peninsula Athletic League knew she could have a breakout kind of year. On Tuesday, she showed exactly why — there are lapses of time when there are few better streaking down the sideline with the ball on her feet.
Flores had her time to shine in the second half. Before then, it was Aragon who had the upperhand. During the first quarter of the game, the Dons built their attack rather effortlessly and it was during one of those times that a vertical ball from the back line followed by a one-touch pass found itself at the foot of Aragon’s Ashlinn Oka. The forward wasted little time in finishing to Kitty Qu’s left for the 1-0 lead.
But to Qu’s credit — and the rest of the San Mateo defense actually — that was one of the last solid attacks by the Aragon offense. Come the second half, the Bearcats turned things around nicely.
“Aragon is a very good and talented team,” Bover said. “And for us, we have to be able to match their intensity and step it up a little bit more. I think we have the talent and the players to play up to their level and we did and we got the win today.”
Flores jumps to the front of line when it comes to San Mateo talent. Five minutes into the second half, No. 8 streaked down the left side, took a step or two into the penalty box and send a ball toward the back post. The ball looked destined to go in but Wischer was there finishing her run and made sure of that by pounding the equalizer into the back of the net.
Twelve minutes later, a small defensive lapse by Aragon on an attempted clearance of the ball allowed Flores to repeat the same action. This time, there was no additional run needed to complete the goal as Flores beat the Dons’ keeper easily to shock the home team and take a 2-1 lead.
From there, it was all Qu — last season’s PAL Goalkeeper of the Year as a freshman — who continues to get better. It was a couple of point-blank saves that allowed San Mateo to keep the lead and earn the three points.
“She’s been learning how to play a little further out,” Bover said. “So, that’s a little new for her. But, when she gets the opportunity to step up, we have total confidence in her play.
“I don’t know where the rivalry is,” Bover added. “If they (the players) are aware of it, they didn’t tell me about it. But, I think Aragon is great team to play against. like any other.”