Thanks to two goals from Sophia Hernandez, the Davis High girls soccer team rallied to defeat Elk Grove, 3-1, on Wednesday at Yudin Field.
The Senior Day victory meant the Blue Devils (15-3-3) finished at 7-1-2 in Delta Valley Conference play, good for second place, ahead of the Thundering Herd (10-3-2, 6-2-2). Franklin won the league.
Though seniors Natalie Silver and Brooke Palmer were recognized in a ceremony before the game, Hernandez — a junior — stole the show with two well-taken goals to give DHS momentum heading into next week’s Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“Sophia is crafty,” said Devil head coach Sara Stone. “She’s one of those people where you can kind of fall asleep on her and the next thing you know, she’s behind you. She has quickness but you don’t see it until she’s beyond you.”
After Elk Grove took the lead in the 23rd minute on its only shot of the half, Hernandez responded 13 minutes later when a free kick from Palmer was deflected out to freshman Julia Curtis.
Curtis then played the ball out wide to sophomore Makenna Rubinstein, who cut the ball back onto her right foot and lofted an in-swinging cross to the back post. The ball sailed over all the Herd defenders and was met with a one-time, right-footed volley from Hernandez that nearly ripped a hole in the back of the net.
Davis dominated the first half — attempting nine shots to Elk Grove’s one and keeping possession in the opposing half for the majority of the period — but was unable to capitalize on its good play, leading to a 1-1 deadlock at the break.
Sixteen minutes after intermission, Curtis found herself one-on-one against the Thundering Herd goalkeeper.
As Curtis slid into the ball to try to put her shot on goal, the Elk Grove netminder crashed into Curtis, giving the referee no choice but to call a penalty.
The Blue Devil freshman got up and calmly dispatched a low shot into the left corner of the net. Though the goal turned out to be the eventual winner, Curtis remained emotionless as her teammates surrounded her in celebration.
For the locals, the newfound lead was one of their few comebacks of the season.
“We’ve talked about that,” Stone said of playing from behind. “We haven’t been in a lot of games where we were behind. But it shows our development as we come into postseason. I think that the girls were fired up for the game, it being Senior Day.”
Twenty minutes later, the result was sealed when freshman Sidra Bugsch won a ball in the midfield that went straight to Hernandez.
Though Hernandez was more than 35 yards out from goal, she decided to strike a driven shot toward the net.
The shot knuckled, swerved and dipped, ending up over the Elk Grove goalkeeper but under the crossbar as the crowd of roughly 200 rose to their feet and exalted.
That goal confirmed the fourth straight win for DHS since moving to a 4-4-2 formation. The Devils have a +22 goal differential in those games.
“I plan on it,” Stone said when asked if she would continue to use the formation in the playoffs, which begin Tuesday.
“With the personnel that we have, it’s helpful and it has kind of allowed us to spread the game out a little more. They have 11, we have 11, but when we set up in that formation, we’ve been more successful.”