SACRAMENTO — It was déjà vu for the Davis High girls soccer team on Tuesday as No. 8 McClatchy secured its second 2-1 win over the ninth-seeded Blue Devils this season, this one coming in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Lions senior Jade Poon was again the hero, scoring against DHS for the third time this year and providing the assist on Tuesday’s other McClatchy goal.
The physical playoff match was played on a thin field with bumpy, uneven, thick grass that hindered both team’s passing game. It wasn’t uncommon to see either squad turn the ball over after just a few connected passes.
“This field is not conducive to our style of play unfortunately,” said Devil coach Sara Stone, whose team came into the game with a 15-3-3 record and as the defender section runner-up. “I think a lot of teams can get away with a small field and stay in contention. I thought they came out with just a little more energy than we had, they were a little more physical on the ball than we were and once again that all has to do with the size of the field.
“You have 22 people in such a tight space, you’re constantly under pressure. So that was frustrating for us,” Stone added. “We had some opportunities, but just like when we played them the first time, their opportunities, they capitalized on, our opportunities, we weren’t able to capitalize on. I think the girls were a little frustrated because I don’t think in their heads that that was the result, even from halftime, that they were expecting.”
After an uneventful first 15 minutes, Davis goalkeeper Christina Roeckl-Navazio came up big — first saving a shot from 18 yards out that took an awkward bounce right in front of her, then stoning Poon on a point-blank header after a cross bounced inside the 6-yard box.
Three minutes before halftime, though, Roeckl-Navazio was helpless to stop the opening goal of the game.
A cross was played into the box and flicked onto the far post by Poon, finding Marian Harrmeyer, who was goal-side of local defender Josie Baca. Harrmeyer took one touch and then finished past Roeckl-Navazio, leading to an eruption from the roughly 100 McClatchy (18-2-1) fans in attendance.
The Blue Devils regrouped somewhat after the break. An extended period of possession 10 minutes in saw Makenna Rubinstein cross the ball over all the Lions defenders, finding Sophia Hernandez at the back post.
Though Hernandez didn’t cleanly bring the ball down, freshman teammate Sidra Bugsch was able to control the ball. However, Bugsch scuffed her shot on the awkward playing surface and it rolled just wide from 15 yards out.
Seven minutes later a back pass toward goal caused a miscommunication between Roeckl-Navazio and defender Claire Bulman, who collided with each other at the top of the box leaving Poon wide open to tap into an empty net for a 2-0 home lead.
DHS was given a lifeline of its own five minutes later, when the McClatchy goalkeeper did her best Robert Green impression.
At the top of the box, Devil Suleikha Sutter found freshman Julia Curtis, whose first touch took her past her defender and into the penalty area.
Curtis fired a low shot that bounced oddly in front of the keeper and, instead of an easy save, it went right through the goalie’s legs and into the back of the net to cut the Lions’ lead to 2-1.
The goal revitalized Davis, as it began sending waves of attackers forward.
The strategy nearly paid off in the 66th minute when a Gaby Herrera free kick from 25 yards was smashed off of the crossbar after Sutter won a foul.
Despite the numbers sent forward, though, that was as close as the Blue Devils would get with all of their final attacks failing to find fruition.
“At this point, every team that is advancing is great, so every advantage you get, you want,” Stone said. “I think we felt a little deflated when the (seedings) came out. I told the girls the way to respond to that is to be the better soccer team. I think we were as ready as we could be as far as training and touching on the things we needed to touch on.”
Notes: DHS senior Brooke Palmer and McClatchy junior Micaela Mercado were both sent off in the 77th minute. Mercado pulled Palmer down by her arm when Palmer was in possession of the ball. The Devil player got up and pushed Mercado, who responded by punching Palmer in the face, leading to fisticuffs between both teams and nine minutes of stoppage time. … Davis outshot the Lions, 10-8, but was even in shots on goal (4-4). McClatchy had a 2-1 advantage in corners.
— Reach Evan Ream at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam