It was a championship-caliber clash.
Franklin and Davis — two prep teams ranked in the top 50 girls soccer squads in the United States — hammered away at each other for position in the Delta Valley Conference.
When the grass stopped flying in the brisk breeze on Wednesday at Yudin Field, Kalani Ratnasiri had scored all three Blue Devil goals and DHS had secured a 3-2 victory.
With just four games remaining, the Wildcats and Devils are each 5-1 in league.
Davis, ranked 47th nationally by MaxPreps.com, is now 13-4-1 and avenged a 1-0 setback to Franklin on April 1.
FHS (ranked 30th in the same MaxPreps poll) is now 11-3.
“What do I take away from this game?” Devil coach Sara Stone repeated the question. “A lot of character from the girls.”
Three local starters — Emily Gao (hamstring), Gabriela Herrera (shoulder) and Clara Goin (knee) – were hurting and Tuesday’s Davis practice saw long faces, knowing the task at hand with Franklin.
“We faced (Wednesday) with the possibility of three starters out,” Stone continued. “I sensed the girls (feeling) a little defeated (Tuesday). But players stepped into those positions and they should feel really good about (their performances).”
* Sophomore defender Renee Schuman got the start at midfield and played brilliantly against the repeated first-half charges of Franklin standouts Tatyana Garrett and Lauren Williams.
* Goin gutted it out, making several brilliant feeds for Blue Devil goal rushes and playing solid midfield.
* Herrera gave it a go, but was replaced just before halftime as the Devils used a handful of combinations to cover for their ailing comrades.
From the outset, the contest was physical.
Goin was knocked down from behind early on and Williams was taken out in a collision with two Devils. Playing against the wind in the first half, the knock-them-off-the-ball local style paid dividends at 8:11 …
Schuman had redirected a Franklin pass, which eventually led to Sophia Hernandez’s long right to left serve over the box to Makenzie Delaughder. In turn, Delaughder punched the ball to Ratnasiri. Standing at the goal mouth, the senior forward flicked in the first of her three tallies.
But back came the Wildcats …
A whiffed clear provided Garrett with a point-blank opportunity. Just two minutes after taking the lead, Davis was now tied.
Franklin went on to take the advantage at 30:16, when Williams’ long cross targeted Lauren Aldana, who stuffed the ball low into the left side of the net.
Trailing 2-1, the Blue Devils regrouped at halftime — and now the wind was at their backs.
At 48:32, Goin’s set piece from 20 yards out curled perfectly to the far post, where a poaching Ratnasiri’s one-touch goal set up an exciting final half-hour.
Williams, a speedy and imposing sophomore, and senior Garrett did all they could to get the visitors over the hump.
Going toe-to-toe, both teams ratcheted up the physical confrontations and officials got busy with the cards: four yellows during the game — a red card afterward (more about that in a minute).
Davis forward Jaha McClean, back on the pitch after missing substantial time with a concussion, almost scored but her long-range blast was ticked out-of-bounds for a DHS corner. Seconds later, McClean’s next shot was right at the Franklin keeper.
Almost instantly, McClean was back at it, but her next shot was knocked out for yet another corner — which eventually led to the game-winner.
After maintaining possession for two minutes, Goin found — who else? — Ratnasiri open at the far post again. With the Wildcat goalie out of position after missing a punch-out, Ratnasiri issued the verdict.
Ratnasiri told The Enterprise that her team was focused and ready to battle. She believes the Blue Devils have enough firepower and determination to make a run at least for a co-title in the DVC.
Up next for DHS is a Monday game at Grant, followed by another road outing with Laguna Creek on Wednesday.
April 29 is Senior Day when Monterey Trail comes calling. The DVC slate ends on May 1 at Elk Grove.
Notes: Backliners Delaughder and co-captains Kylie Tierney and Jenna Farboud were solid, sometimes spectacular. Twice Tierney redirected deep Franklin advances and once survived a hard crash with Williams in the box to send the ball out of harm’s way. Megan Casey and Farboud also had encounters with the talented Williams, each sending the ball to docile territory when it counted most. … Garrett received a red card after time expired. The referee told The Enterprise it was for “verbal abuse” and an obscene gesture directed at the officials. By rule, Garrett is disqualified from Franklin’s Monday game with Laguna Creek — unless the Wildcats issue (and win) a protest of the red card.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at email@example.com or 530-747-8047. View photo galleries and purchase prints of Blue Devils sports photos at http://davisenterprise.zenfolio.com