The following article was published in the February issue of the Torrey Pines Falconer:
The Lady Falcons (9-8-1) came up short against Poway High School (8-7-2) on Feb.8, 2-1, in a back-and-forth affair that challenged both teams.
Neither team managed to score in the opening minutes, until Poway threaded the ball through the right side of the field. Ultimately, the ball deflected off center back Bailey Sayin (12) and rolled out of bounds, giving Poway a corner kick. But the Lady Falcons managed to clear the ball as soon as it was in play, eliminating Poway’s chance at scoring.
“I was worried because last time we played them they got a lot of corners and throw-ins and we did not deal with them well,” Sayin said. “So I was worried that this was going to be like the first time we played them, and we would have to be defending the whole time.”
After five minutes, the game grew more aggresive and both sides made a series of free kicks and through balls.
Abigail Palkowitz (12) made a promising attack. However, Poway intercepted the ball back and sent it downfield to its forward Jamie McCandless for a one-on-one scoring opportunity. TPHS goalkeeper Taylor Getz (12) charged off the goal line. McCandless was able to dribble around Getz and lofted a shot past Sayin, who was trailing Getz, for the game’s first score.
“After they scored first, we realized we needed to pick up our game,” outside left midfielder Eva Buechler (10) said.
Eleven minutes later, the Lady Falcons pieced together an offensive attack. A Lady Titan disrupted the pursuit with a hard slide, tackling Palkowitz in the box, and giving TPHS a penalty kick. Midfielder Anissa Dadkhah (10) converted to tie the game at one apiece.
Off a corner kick in the last few minutes of the first half, Poway midfielder Jill Godfrey crossed the ball and defender Maura Duggan headed it past goalie Getz for a 2-1 lead.
“I feel the defense played well, but we got unorganized at times because they were playing long ball, so they were able to get on the attack quicker, and we weren’t really able to get back in time,” Dadkhah said.
The disorganization led to the Lady Titans’ second goal and affected the Lady Falcons’ shape on the offensive half, according to Buechler.
“After we scored we were getting into our groove, but then they scored and after that I think we all kind of let down a little bit,” Buechler said.
Midfielder Erin Donnelly (12) nearly scored off a corner kick by Buechler, but the ball sailed just over the crossbar on what looked to be a promising header.
“I just wanted them to get in the box so we had a chance,” Donnelly said. “It was just kind of a bummer when the whole game was over because that was like our last big chance to tie the game up again.”
After a back-and-forth five minutes that included multiple shots on goal by both teams, the Lady Falcons were awarded a free kick and a potential scoring opportunity, but ended up being cleared away by the Titans.
“I think the team could’ve played a lot better,” Dadkah said. “Like getting the ball on the ground and playing our game, like passing the ball and not getting so frantic.”
After two strong offensive efforts by the Lady Falcons, the ball constantly switched between the TPHS and Poway sides of the field. With time waning, the Lady Falcons began to play more aggressively and received two yellow cards.
“It affected the players that got [the yellow cards] the most,” Sayin said. “And everyone was kind of frustrated with the referee.”
Although players were frustrated with the referee, TPHS head coach Martyn Hansford had a more sophisticated reason for the loss.
“It was just a contrasting style of play,” Hansford said. “They’re just booting the ball, long balls, big throw-ins and stuff, and we’re trying to get it down and play but it just wasn’t connected enough. … I’m not terribly disappointed, but we can definitely play a lot better than that.”
Ranked number three in their division, the Lady Falcons and Hansford agree that there is a lot to work on going into the final stretch of the season.
“We need to [continue to work on] connecting,” Hansford said. “We’ll do a little bit of work on how to deal with adversity, but I don’t think it’s a problem; it’s not like we are mentally weak. I mean we’re a tough team with a lot of character in there.”
The Lady Falcons played at Rancho Benardo High School on Feb. 13, after the Falconer went to press.