The wind seemed to be at the backs of Davis High girls soccer team on both ends of the field as they blew right past Elk Grove on Monday.
And it was on that afternoon’s strong gusts that the Blue Devil shots sailed, bringing them a 4-1 Delta Valley Conference victory at Yudin Field.
It was history nearly repeating itself, as DHS defeated the Thundering Herd, 4-0, at Yudin Field in 2012. With Monday’s result, the Devils improved to 12-4-1 and 4-1 in league play, while Elk Grove drops to 4-6 and 3-2.
Aggression was the name of the game for Davis. Certainly it was for Kalani Ratnasiri, who began her assault early in the first period by assisting the runs of her squadmates and shooting twice herself within the first 10 minutes.
The Blue Devils seized their chance at 13:20, when Sophia Hernandez tied up Elk Grove’s defenders — then slipped the ball to Gabriela Herrera, who was wide open for the first goal of the game.
With the Thundering Herd offering little work for local goalkeeper Madison MacKenzie, the DHS girls kept pressing the attack with Clara Goin and Olivia Haass making strong moves.
Those first 25 minutes especially pleased Devil coach Sara Stone, who said the stretch displayed the true ability of her squad’s offense:
“It was the best I’ve seen them play in a while. We were able to combine as a unit in the offensive third, and we got a lot of creative opportunities to make goals.”
The remainder of the first half was a battle for possession in the midfield, with neither side gaining ground. Still, the locals led the EGHS in shots, 9-2, and on the scoreboard, 1-0, at intermission.
After the break, Davis continued to devise scoring opportunities until Hernandez saw one of those windows, a deflected shot that had left Elk Grove’s defenders scrambling. Her stroke was true and it put the Blue Devils up, 2-0, 23 minutes into the second period.
The local girls began to take advantage of everything that came their way, like Kylie Tierney’s free kick at 30:50. Her shot was sent over the head of the Herd goalkeeper Gabriella McDaniel, and wedged a further gap on the scoreboard for DHS.
Ratnasiri earned the last goal of the night for the Devils, nailing a straight shot after a run at 34:15.
The DHS shooting onslaught continued through the final whistle, eventually overshadowing Elk Grove by a difference of 19-4 in attempts.
However, one of the Thundering Herd’s handful of shots hit the net when their squadron of forwards, led by Breanna Avila, found a break.
Still, there was much to praise about the Blue Devil defense, starting with Makenzie Delaughder’s constant presence on the wing, which consistently repelled any advance from Elk Grove.
“Really, everyone contributed,” Stone said. “Everyone picked it up after Emily Gao, one of our standout midfielders and defenders, got hurt during the game. I was proud of the character of our players at that point.”
DHS is hoping for a quick recovery by Gao as a showdown with Franklin, the leaders of DVC, looms at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Yudin Field. The defending league champs already boast a 1-0 win over DHS this year.
“I’m hoping the momentum really carries us through to that game,” Stone said. “Winning is going to take us capitalizing on offensive opportunities, because we may not have one again.
“We’re also going to need to be organized on defense, and not give Franklin the ability to win the ball.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett