Sequoia has certainly been in the upper echelon of Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division girls’ soccer teams for a few years now.
The Ravens made their claim in 2019-20 when they defeated Woodside, the program’s first win over its crosstown rival since head coach Melissa Schmidt took over 14 years ago. Entering play Tuesday, however, that still stood as Sequoia’s only win over Woodside during Schmidt’s tenure.
A second-half comeback put the Ravens back in the win column against the Wildcats, though. Sequoia (3-1-1 PAL Bay, 7-1-3 overall) claimed a 2-1 victory on its home pitch of Terremere Field, a spirited and emotional win that saw junior midfielder Addison Haws scored the game-winner in the 79th minute.
“I think it’s just the rivalry,” Haws said. “It happens in every sport here … but ever since I’ve come to Sequoia, we haven’t beat Woodside. So, this is a really big deal.”
Haws was involved in both Sequoia scores. With the Ravens trailing 1-0 heading into the second half, the junior earned an assist for connecting with sophomore forward Teagan Tokheim on a through ball. Tokheim drew out the goalkeeper, sidestepped her, and banged it home for the equalizer in the 57th minute.
The second goal was set up by a controversial free kick out of the corner, that saw Haws sneak through a crown to get a foot on the ball with a tempo toward goal. Haws said she was looking to get a head on the ball but had to wait for the play to develop.
“But it came through,” Haws said. “Luckily, right place, right time. … Everyone in the middle just kind of missed me, so I just took my chance.”
It was quite a turnaround after a demoralizing end to the first half for Sequoia. The Ravens controlled the pace of play for the opening 20 minutes, using a nice shape through midfielders Ashlee Landin Pacheco and Megan McCormick.
As the half wore on, though, Woodside (2-2-1, 6-3-1) did well create disruptions and free up the middle to set up counterattacks. This set the Wildcats in motion for a stunner of a goal on the final play of the opening half.
Sequoia seemed to hold the advantage in the 40th minute, earning a corner kick and nearly converting. Haws converged on the back post and got a head on the ball, only to have it strike the post. Woodside recovered the loose ball and quickly flipped the field and earned a corner of its own. Senior forward Sofia Bellver seized on the opportunity by catching a defender out of position and connecting with a clear lane for the first goal of the afternoon.
“It went in there, and it was kind of jumbling,” Bellver said. “And I just grabbed it and shot it and finished it.”
Sequoia had just talked about Woodside’s strength on corner kicks, with Schmidt drilling her team for 30 minutes on just that Monday at practice.
“So, when that happened and then the whistle blew for half, I mean … their shoulders all [slumped],” Schmidt said. “The only loss we have all season is to Hillsdale on a last-minute corner. So, corners are kind of a thing for us right now.”
Bellver — who scored on an assist from Cibelli Pfeifer, who took the corner kick — has now scored eight goals on the year, including three in Woodside’s last two matches.
“She’s been fantastic,” Woodside head coach Nacho Navarrete said. “She’s scored half of our goals this season. She’s played really well. She got one for us today, and she’s scored in three straight games. So, she’s been really good.”
Sequoia regained control of the midfield in the second half. But the Ravens, after tying it, still found themselves up against it when Woodside earned a corner kick in the 72nd minute. A mighty scrum ensued that saw Haws step up on defense, patrolling the goal line and touching the ball not just once, but twice.
From close range, the Wildcats lobbed a shot on goal and over the keeper’s head, but Haws, straddling the goal line, headed it out. The ball went right to a Woodside player at the top of the keeper’s area, and she headed it right back toward goal. Haws met it again, and this time was able to clear it.
“That was a little nerve-wracking,” Haws said. “I thought once I hit it for the first time, I thought it was gone. So, no, it came right back.”
The rivalry between Woodside and Sequoia is a friendly one, with many of the girls growing up playing soccer together.
“Pretty familiar,” Bellver said. “A lot of the players on Woodside know a lot of the players on Sequoia, so it’s always a rivalry.”
After the last time the Ravens won in head-to-head play between the two, the Wildcats were 3-0-1 against Sequoia — until Tuesday, as the teams, despite the friendly nature of the rivalry, turned in a tough, physical performance on both side.
“It was pretty difficult, but we came out hard in the second half, and we came out strong,” Haws said. “We all played as a team and we communicated, and I think that really helped with getting one on the board. And then we kept that throughout the second half, and that led in to our second goal.”