Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Hillsdale goalkeeper Nicole Theroux makes a save as Burlingame’s Samantha Dean stumbles over her while applying pressure during a 1-1 tie, which dropped the Panthers into a second-place tie with Woodside in the Bay Division standings. Carlmont’s 3-0 win over San Mateo vaulted the Scots into first place, one point ahead of both Burlingame and Woodside.
As the Peninsula Athletic League girls’ soccer season enters the home stretch, every game is magnified.
Burlingame started the day in first place in the Bay Division and faced a Hillsdale squad desperate to keep pace with the front-runners. Hillsdale appeared destined to bag its biggest win of the season when the Knights took a 1-0 lead in the first minute of the second half.
But Burlingame, as it has for the majority of the season, battled back and scored the equalizer with six minutes left in the game to pick up a crucial point in the standings.
“It’s a little frustrating. Disappointing. So many glaring opportunities (for us),” said Burlingame coach Philip DeRosa. “We just weren’t able to capitalize. We’re fortunate to get out of here with a point.”
The result makes the top of the Bay Division that much tighter. By virtue of Carlmont’s 3-0 win over San Mateo, the Scots vault into the top spot with a league mark of 6-1-2, good for 20 points (three points for a win, one point for a tie). The Panthers’ tie, along with Woodside’s 6-0 win over Aragon, moved those two squads into a tie for second place with 19 points each.
For Hillsdale, it was an opportunity missed. The Knights came into the game with a 3-4-1 Bay Division record, good for 10 points. A win would have vaulted them into the title race.
Now, they’ll need to get some help.
“I think (this result) solidifies us as a contender,” said Chris Chirico, Hillsdale’s assistant head coach. “This was definitely a character-defining game for us. At this point, we’ve been in every game but, at some point, we have to win.”
Hillsdale (3-4-2, 11 points) definitely gave itself a chance to do just that. After a first half that saw the Knights with the more dangerous chances, they finally put it all together in the opening minutes of the second half. Right fullback Valerie Chiang received a ball in her half of the field and worked her way upfield. After juking a couple defenders, she worked a give-and-go along the right sideline and continued to push up into the attack.
After losing two more Burlingame defenders near the top of the Panthers penalty box, she cut a cross back to Angelina DiMatteo, who let loose a shot through traffic that beat the goalkeeper to the left to put the Knights up 1-0.
The Knights’ chances took a hit when midfielder Kayla Coleman — one of the best players in the league — had to leave with about 20 minutes left after hurting her lower right leg on a challenge. Her loss seemed to throw Hillsdale into some confusion, of which Burlingame would take advantage.
Despite losing his best play maker, Chirico didn’t make excuses.
“[Coleman] does a lot for us, but we have a deep bench,” Chirico said. “We have the players who need to step up.”
Coleman’s exit coincided with the Panthers ramping up the urgency of their game. The final 15 minutes were spent mainly in the Knights’ half of the field as Burlingame, time and again, tried to use balls over the top of the Hillsdale defense to get the Panther forwards into a dangerous position.
“Right from the beginning, we got a couple over the top, so I said just keep going over the top,” DeRosa said. “I changed the formation so we could do that.”
Ashley Harper was especially dangerous, as she ran onto numerous long balls, but just could not finish.
In the 74th minute, with desperation setting in, Burlingame finally forced Hillsdale to make a defensive mistake. With the Knights pinned deep in their own end, they failed to clear the ball out of danger. It eventually ended up on the foot of Kelsey Andrews, who simply poked a shot toward goal.
The shot didn’t look particularly dangerous, but the ball rolled across the face of the goal and dipped just inside the far left post for an improbable equalizer.
“The girls are disappointed,” DeRosa said. “They know they can play so much better.”
Woodside 6, Aragon 0
The Wildcats moved into a tie with Burlingame for second place in the Bay Division standings by thumping Aragon Tuesday afternoon.
“I think we played our best game of the season,” said Woodside coach Jose Navarrete.
A pair of freshmen combined for four Woodside goals (6-2-1, 19 points). Isabella Bascara and Jessika Cowart each scored a pair for the Wildcats. Sophomore Jillienne Aguilera scored the other two.
Carlmont 3, San Mateo 0
The Scots took over first place with a shutout of the Bearcats.
Soha Said, Kayla Fong and Alyssa Fagel each scored for Carlmont.