Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Carlmont’s Brooke Buckley, left, and Burlingame’s Alysse LaMond battle for control of the ball during the Scots’ 1-0 win over the Panthers Tuesday.
Soha Said’s strike in the 59th minute turned out to be the game’s only goal in the Carlmont’s win over Burlingame Thursday afternoon.
The loss was the first in Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division play for the Panthers, who also all but saw their chances of winning the division title go by the board as well.
Woodside’s scoreless tie with San Mateo gave the Wildcats a one-point lead over Burlingame in the race for the Bay Division championship with one game to play in the regular season. The Panthers will need a win Thursday, coupled with a tie or Woodside loss, to win the Bay Division crown.
“The kids are heartbroken. They really are heartbroken,” said Burlingame coach Philip DeRosa. “They really wanted the championship.”
Don’t expect a lot of sympathy from Carlmont, however. Two weeks ago, the Scots were part of a three-team tie atop the Bay Division standings, along with Woodside and Burlingame. Over the span of three games, however, the Scots went 1-2 and dropped into third place, where they are firmly entrenched.
“In three games, we went from first to third,” said Carlmont coach Tina Smith. “Everything we now practice for is to go into [the Central Coast section playoffs] on a high.”
Carlmont (8-3-2 PAL Bay, 12-4-3 overall) took a step toward that Tuesday by beating Burlingame (8-1-4, 10-3-5). Not that it was easy. The Panthers had the better chances in the opening 40 minutes, but could not capitalize on their opportunities.
In the 11th minute, a mistake by the Carlmont goalkeeper nearly cost the Scots. She came way off her line to clear a ball toward midfield, but it was intercepted by Burlingame’s Rachel Byrd. From 50 yards, Byrd saw the Carlmont keeper was nowhere near the goal and decided to take a shot. As the goalkeeper scrambled back, Byrd’s shot sailed just over the crossbar and the Scots dodged a bullet.
Alysse LaMond had a couple of good scoring chances for the Panthers as well in the first half. Two minutes after Byrd’s attempt, LaMond used a cutback move at the top of the Carlmont penalty box to lose her defender, but her shot went high and wide. In the 24th minute, LaMond stole the ball from a Carlmont defender just outside the Scots’ penalty box and juked a defender, but her shot to the near post was saved.
Carlmont, while it did have five shots — four of which were on goal — none of them were especially dangerous as all four were easily saved by the Panthers’ goalkeeper.
“[We] looked good in the first 15 minutes of the game,” DeRosa said. “When you miss opportunities, they come back to bite you in the end.”
In the second half, Carlmont played like a team on a mission. The Scots controlled most of the possession and applied heavy pressure on the Panthers at every turn. The Scots used pinpoint passing to spring runs down the flanks and with Said patrolling the middle, it seemed it was only a matter of time before the Scots found the magic.
“They really outplayed us in the second half,” DeRosa said.
In the 59th minute, the Scots found it. Carlmont earned a throw-in deep in the Burlingame end. Brooke Buckley took the throw and found Said at the top of the Panthers’ penalty, who was inexplicably unmarked. Said took a touch to settle the ball, turned and fired a shot to the far left corner of the net — a shot the goalkeeper had no chance of saving — to give the Scots what turned out to be the game winner.
“Normally, I would say that was a normal game for us,” Smith said. “We communicated well. We distributed (the ball) well.”
The Panthers finally found their rhythm over the final 20 minutes of the game, but the Carlmont defense stood firm and kept Burlingame off the scoreboard.
More than the win, Smith was satisfied to see her team respond to the challenges a team like Burlingame presented.
“I think Burlingame is an amazing team and what Burlingame poses to us is our biggest weakness,” Smith said. “When teams come out hard on us, we tend to shut down.”
Not on Tuesday, however.