At the end of Davis High’s girls soccer game against Sheldon at Yudin Field, most of the statistics pointed to a dominant Blue Devil performance.
But sometimes soccer is a funny game as the only stat that mattered Tuesday was the one that was even at 3-3 — the final score.
DHS (6-1-1) led 28-6 in shots, 10-6 in shots on goal and 8-1 in corners.
But from the get-go, the Huskies (1-1-1) combated the Devil offense by packing all of their players behind the ball in their own half of the field.
“It was effective,” Davis coach Sara Stone said of Sheldon’s tactic. “Davis has always had a strong reputation as being a successful soccer team. Teams might use that tactic of packing the box and seeing maybe if they can get a tie out of (the game).”
The locals began the game on the offensive, dominating all of the possession while attacking into a wind that was so heavy that most of the Husky clearances and goal kicks stopped in midair, dropping to unassuming players only 30 yards from the Sheldon goal.
The Blue Devils were rampant in attacking, sending both outside backs up the line to whip balls into the box.
It nearly paid off in the sixth minute when a good run by sophomore back Makenna Rubinstein culminated in a driven cross right into the 6-yard box to the head of forward Suleikha Sutter. However, the junior’s header went over the net.
Four minutes later, DHS almost took advantage of one of the multiple flip-throws that freshman Julia Curtis had been playing into the box. Her throw eluded everyone and crashed off the post, then deflected off a defender, forcing a diving save from the Sheldon goalkeeper.
Another four minutes later, the Huskies struck the first blow of the game in their first advanced possession.
A defensive slip-up, likely due to the wind, left the ball with a Sheldon player at the top of the box and she hit a lofted shot. That same wind held the ball up causing Devil keeper Christina Roeckl-Navazio to misjudge it while it soared into the upper corner of the net.
Down 1-0, Davis inserted freshman Sidra Bugsch to complete an exciting attacking underclassman trio of Bugsch, Curtis and junior Gaby Herrera.
The three immediately combined for the first Blue Devil goal in 33rd minute as a Curtis corner kick was shielded from the Sheldon keeper by Herrera, causing it to bounce out to Bugsch, who rifled it into the upper 90 of the near post to tie the game.
“Those three players expect a lot of themselves,” Stone said of her young attackers. “They combine with each other so much and make each other look good. They’re competitive. They want to win. They want to improve. They’re very coachable. It’s exciting to have players like that.”
With one minute to play before halftime, Bugsch found herself with the ball surrounded by traffic 35 yards away from goal.
Thanks to her Xavi-esque speed of thought, she found Curtis at the top of the box. From there, Curtis was able to turn and pepper a laser beam into the bottom left corner of the net, giving DHS a 2-1 lead at the break.
The teams changed sides, but the wind kept blowing toward the south goal, giving the Huskies an edge that took them just 10 minutes to exploit.
On the play, a Sheldon player blindly received a ball in the midfield and cleared it toward the Davis goal. Both Devil center backs stepped up in anticipation of an offside call that never came while a speedy Husky took the ball in stride and placed it past the oncoming Marianna O’Brien, who had replaced Roeckl-Navazio in goal during the interlude.
The tying tally was followed up just four minutes later when a Sheldon player collected a ball inside the DHS side of the center circle and hit a wind-aided blast that nestled its way into the net.
Suddenly, the Blue Devils were behind in a game that they had no business trailing in, and it would take them until the very last minute to do anything about it.
In stoppage time, Davis junior Sophia Hernandez lofted a free kick to Herrera at the back post, and she was able to head the ball home to secure the draw for the home side.
After the disappointing result, several Devil players spent an extended period of time discussing the result with Stone.
“You bounce back (from the result) by finding players who are disappointed with the result and want to respond,” Stone said motioning to some of her veterans who had yet to leave the field. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”
DHS’ first chance to respond is Thursday when they head to Rocklin for a 4 p.m. match.
— Reach Evan Ream at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam