Two late, well-taken goals by McClatchy senior Jade Poon condemned the Davis High girls soccer team to its second loss in three games, and fourth overall, in a 2-1 decision Monday night at Yudin Field.
Despite taking the lead on a Gabriela Herrera header in the 66th minute, and outshooting the Lions 27-8, the Blue Devils (11-2-4) were unable to contain Poon on two counterattacks in the final 10 minutes of the nonleague match.
“We were familiar with some of the (McClatchy) players before we kicked off. They have some good players,” said DHS coach Sara Stone. “Everyone is here to beat us. Davis has a reputation as being a good team, so we’re always in the hot seat.”
After a scoreless first half that was played mostly in the middle third of the field, Stone elected to move Herrera up from center back to attacking midfield in an attempt to create some opportunities.
The change paid immediate dividends as the Devils began peppering McClatchy (13-2-1) with shots, including one left-footed 30-yard blast from freshman Julia Curtis that caromed off the crossbar.
“Gaby’s just a player that can play all over,” Stone said. “She played in the back against Franklin so we continued that (to open the match), but we needed her leg strength and vision and awareness of the game so we moved her into the midfield. She does well there.”
Davis finally broke the deadlock on its 26th shot of the game as Curtis lofted a corner that Herrera met at the top of the 6-yard box with a powerful header that split the Lions’ goalkeeper and a defender positioned on the near post.
Seven minutes later, Poon equalized with a delicate outside-of-the-right-foot chip over local keeper Christina Roeckl-Navazio after a midfield giveaway, something that Stone cited as one of the Blue Devils’ biggest weaknesses right now.
The comeback was complete when, with just two minutes left, Poon found herself open at the top of the box while several DHS defenders raised their hands in protest of an offside non-call.
Poon dropped her shoulder, cut inside and curled a shot into the upper corner of the net with the inside of her foot.
The Devils’ late attempts to equalize proved to be futile as the referee blew for full time when the 27th and final Davis shot missed 15 yards to the right.
“I just feel like our opportunities right now are so direct,” said a clearly frustrated Stone. “It’s just long ball and then cross your fingers. I think we’re more creative than that. We’re playing safe and then we get panicked.
“A little bit of leadership needs to shine through at this point,” Stone added. “We need some players, it doesn’t matter who, I don’t care if they’re seniors or freshmen, to kind of step up and verbalize and take charge so we’re a little more cohesive out there.”
Notes: Despite the loss, there was a sliver of good news for the Blue Devils as senior Natalie Silver played about 10 minutes in her first match of the season. She spent the previous 16 games on the sideline with an injury. … DHS returns to Delta Valley Conference play on Monday when Grant comes to town for a 5 p.m. contest.
— Reach Evan Ream at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam