Lady Wave goes toe to toe with Truckee
The Greenwave varsity girls soccer team finally stumbled on their winning streak, losing 3-1 in their home match against Truckee on Friday.
The Lady Wave is currently at 7-5-2 overall and 5-3-2 in the D1-A conference, while the Wolverines are currently 11-6 overall and 9-1 in the D1-A conference.
Assistant coach Lance Lattin, leading the girls instead of head coach Kelly Spicer who couldn’t be there for the match, said it was a tough match in light of Truckee’s skill.
“They’re a pretty organized team,” Lattin said, “and they always pass very well. Their possession is always very good.”
Passing and possession were key to Fallon’s loss during this match, since the Wolverines were able to pass through the Wave defenders even when it was one on one.
In the first half there was a battle at the far left between Wolverines freshman Noelle Seppi and Wave senior Rebecca Mills, both warring for breakaways. It was a pleasant surprise to the Lady Wave that Mills was back in so soon, since coaches previously thought that she would be out for a few games due to minor surgery for her feet.
“She gives us another dimension,” Lattin said, glad to have Mills back early. “She’s a very valuable player who plays well with her head. She’s smart and quick.”
It was almost ironic that the girls were still able to perform when Mills was out for their previous game, but upon Mills’ return they hit one of the hardest defenses of their season.
Possession was back and forth but both teams were willing to take kicks to the elbow if it meant getting the ball out of their own territory for too long.
One of the key players in the Wave offense was junior Leilani Otuafi, who had most of the early breakaways and near goals with help from Mills, as well as some backup from junior Savannah Sweeney and senior Macy Meyers.
The only thing that kept Otuafi’s first three breakaways from becoming the first points for the Wave was the sheer speed of the Wolverines’ defenders, particularly Seppi and junior Marlena Montano who were able to steal the ball from Otuafi at the last second when they were sprinting neck and neck.
“First touches are very important,” Lattin said, since this made all the difference in Fallon’s loss despite their numerous shots on goal. “Your first touch needs to be away from the defense. The other thing we did incorrectly today was we didn’t break through enough. When they send it through, we need to break before the ball, and we were waiting a little too long and too hesitantly.”
The first goal for Truckee was early in the match, and after that point Meyers was less focused on scoring herself and more on kicking the ball down the field to the forwards already there in hopes in coming from behind sooner rather than later.
Montano was able to stop the Wave’s next two breakaways by Otuafi and Mills, whereas the last few minutes of the match were spent in the Wave’s territory.
Wave senior Kailey Davis performed strong, able to follow the Wolverines’ forwards from the midfield to thwart their own breakaways, until the first half ended at 1-0 in the Wolverines’ favor.
“Against a good team like Truckee, the goal is to disrupt their possession,” Lattin said. “I felt like we did a pretty good job. They weren’t stringing a lot of passes, and they had moments and we had moments but going forward what we want to do is continue to increase our possession and making sure that we’re not giving up the ball needlessly.”
The Lady Wave lost no speed to their play when the second half opened. Within the first two minutes, Otuafi kicked from the far left to Meyers, who connected with the ball before it even hit the ground, throwing off the Truckee goalie to dive in the wrong direction and scoring the Wave’s first goal of the game.
Otuafi wasn’t done, though, determined to have her own goal with another breakaway. This time it took two defenders to steal the ball from under her.
Wave senior Kayla Biggs showed improved footwork, able to keep in bounds despite being pushed far to the line by Wolverines junior forward Zareli Villa multiple times.
With the consistent speed of the Truckee defense, and by the time reliable players such as Sweeney would regain possession, forwards such as Truckee freshman Amber Simonpietri had enough backup to avoid one on one battles and cluster around the Wave offense.
After Sweeney managed to pass to Wave senior Madison Perazzo, Perazzo tried to kick it down field, but like in many instances throughout this match, the Wolverines were the first to the ball and kept it in Wave territory, although Wave junior Melinda Fagundes displayed her own speed to catch up to them each time.
Halfway through, Truckee sophomore Sophie Curtis had a kick toeing the line of the Wave goalpost, scoring and bringing it to 2-1 despite many complaining that her kick was offside.
Simultaneous charges were the advantage of the Wolverines at that point, since only a few minutes later,did Simonpietri outrun two Wave defenders for a sliding kick from the left that brought the score to 3-1.
Biggs was able to shove Truckee junior Chase Rosellen down hard at 19:59 to avoid another consecutive goal, at which point the Wave responded in kind with a breakaway of their own.
Fagundes had a kick that just barely went over the top of the goal after her charge down the right field.
Truckee ‘s passing wasn’t limited to footwork, since their headbutts between captain Sophie Warren and junior Corinne Doerner were the leading example of control in the match that let the Wolverines have so many breakaways.
Despite Biggs tirelessly blocking Rosellen, a few Wave girls could be caught watching the ball on the way to the net instead of charging to the gap where they know the ball will be.
Though the Wolverines had the lead, Biggs and Wave senior Mayzie jones prevented further breakaways by disrupting Wolverines’ passing with wide legs.
Fallon was unable to do more than stop the clock, however, and the score ended at 3-1 with a victory for Truckee.
“The top of the bracket is all tight,” Lattin said, commenting on the Truckee team’s 9-1 league record. “At this point, anybody can beat anybody. The top five spots are a battle. For us it’s about getting organized and making fewer mistakes and that’s what we’ve come away with today. We made too many mistakes, and if we take away those mistakes then it’s a closer game.”