“This game was really exciting for me,” Davis High soccer coach Sara Stone told The Enterprise after her girls nipped visiting Del Oro, 1-0, Thursday night.
“So far I’ve been really pleased with everything, but I was worried about the physical part of the game. I know about (them) and was watching during warmup … I was telling the girls at halftime how I was pleased that we could play physical and still play really good soccer.
“We were mentally strong, super fit … so we came away with the fact that we could play physical soccer as well as good soccer.”
After the two teams bobbed and weaved with each other for a half-hour in the chilly night air at Yudin Field, the Blue Devils began to break the Golden Eagles’ defensive ice.
At 29:24, DHS sophomore Renee Schuman took a crack at goal from 20 yards out, but the rocket was launched directly at DO keeper Emily Fox.
Moments later, Del Oro misplayed a clear and Devil freshman Gabriela Herrera intercepted, juked right and just missed a chip shot, floating just over the net.
But Davis (6-2-1) kept the pressure on — and it paid off …
Six minutes before intermission, Jaha McClean — another sophomore — found Herrera in attack mode. Accepting McClean’s pass, Herrera ticked the ball off the left upright, the ball eventually finding the back of the net.
That was all the Blue Devils would need as deep defenders Olivia Haass, Jenna Farboud, Kylie Tierney and Megan Casey repeatedly played Eagle forwards Jordan McDaniel and Alex Jenkins off the ball.
Del Oro (1-3) was outshot 8-3 by its hosts during that first half. It wasn’t until the final period that the guests started to gel.
Four minutes after the break, DHS fans collectively held their breath when Annsley Yarnell-Williams’ corner kick rolled tantalizingly through a phalanx of Blue Devils. Fortunately, Del Oro players were nowhere to be found and Davis maintained the lead.
DO junior middie Kayla Collins had a good look at 14:45, but her blast went just wide.
Later on, Jenkins made a nice run down the right side, but her shot was for naught.
As the clock ran down, despite Del Oro managing a lion’s share of the late possession, Devils Farboud and Brooke Palmer were able to step up and reverse the ball.
The game, as Stone had predicted, became more physical but Davis gave as good as it got. Both teams managed four shots over the last 40 minutes as goalkeepers Maddy Purves (first half) and Madison MacKenzie (second half) each recorded two saves.
“Our back line has just been stellar,” Stone added. “And Kalani (Ratnasiri) did a good job holding onto the ball. She’s just so creative. Then there was (midfielder) Emily Gao again. She just covers so much ground …”
So, if one removes the scoring outburst in a 7-0 win over Terra Linda on Feb. 26, DHS has but eight goals in eight games. What does Stone think of the offense?
“I think it’s coming along,” said the second-year varsity coach. “We’re taking more chances and we’re getting more people involved, which keeps everybody on their toes.”
Next, the Blue Devils head out on the road for a Tuesday game at Granite Bay (1-3). Game time is 3:30 p.m.
The following week Davis travels to Rio Americano (March 19) before returning home to face Vista del Lago (March 21 at 6:45 p.m.).
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.