WIldcats dominate Shasta
Incongruous, bizarre and surreal are not the usual words that come to mind when a pair of women’s junior college soccer teams meet.
But such was the mise en scene at Edmonds Sports Complex Saturday when the Western Nevada College Wildcats took a 2-0 nonleague victory over the Shasta Community (Calif.) College Knights.
Incongruous is the best way to describe a windy, 55-degree day on the last day of summer as players from both teams huddled and bundled up in the bleachers when they weren’t on the field.
Bizarre is the only way to describe the scene at halftime when a young Ozzy Osbourne belted out the devilish lyrics of the song “Black Sabbath” – by Black Sabbath on their self-titled debut – over some sideline speakers as the young players, more in tune with hip hop, sat on the pitch and discussed strategy.
Surreal is that same environment, only with someone dressed as a black gorilla playing goalkeeper against several young children as Ozzy jumped into “The Wizard.”
WNC coach Hillary Arthur, whose team outshot the Knights 16-0 in the first half, finally had enough of Black Sabbath, having an assistant replace it with hip hop, and reality took a turn back to the mundane as the Wildcats got back to their lockdown defense and busy offense to coast to the win and a 5-2 record.
WNC sophomore goalkeeper Allie Otto – a Carson High School graduate – looked bored enough to trim the pitch with scissors as her offense peppered Shasta keeper Krysta Jenkins with 23 shots and kept the ball on the Knights’ side of the field for the majority of the game.
The Wildcats defense did its part and didn’t allow a single shot to come Otto’s way.
“I was impressed with both (offense and defense),” Arthur said. “We made some major changes in the lineup. (Douglas grad) Meghan Olsen is normally a sweeper and we put her up as a forward. She does real well with the goal at her back, turning and facing defenders.
“We had Kim Duke, our stopper, back at sweeper; and we had Marina Tharin, a midfielder, back as a stopper. I’m impressed with our whole team. They made some great adjustments.”
While a few of her players were as decidedly out of place on the field as the Sabbath was on the halftime music, two forwards – Alexia Balmaseda and Jordan Forman – were right where they are used to being, scoring goals for the Wildcats.
Balmaseda scored her seventh goal of the season and put WNC up 1-0 with a rebound in the 23rd minute after Jenkins stopped her first shot on a feed from Olsen.
Olsen had stripped Shasta freshman defender Lynnae Wright before passing the ball to Jenkins inside the 6-yard line.
Forman, who shares a team-high seven goals with Balmaseda, also pilfered Wright and scored from inside the 6-yard line in the 39th minute to give the Wildcats more than enough cushion for the win.
“Alexia and Jordan are freshmen who will need to take a couple of games to get their confidence and rhythm,” Arthur said. “One thing that’s disappointing is that we didn’t have more goals, taking that many shots. Some were our fault – we booted balls over the net.”
And when that happened, reality once again tilted as Arthur had her players who kicked those shots over the goal fall to the pitch and pump out a quick 10 pushups as the ball was retrieved and other players ran by.
Although it was a dominant performance by the Wildcats, it didn’t match their 9-0 victory over the Knights on Sept. 1 in the Shasta College Tournament.
One of the reasons was Jenkins, who made 21 saves, and yet another was Shasta’s safety-first tactics.
“We worked a lot on our defense and we’ve improved a lot with our defense,” said Shasta coach Lori Dendas, who played alongside Arthur for Humboldt State from 1999-2000. “We were playing in that tournament down a few players. Today our main focus was defense.
“And (Jenkins) is an excellent keeper. She was really solid back there. We’ve been working with her coming off the line…she put it to work today.”
Arthur agreed that Shasta has improved since their first meeting, but said there was another factor in play that inhibited the Wildcats’ offense.
“I’ll tell you something…this field is slow,” she said. “It impeded our game. Anywhere else we’re so quick. It’s very slow and changes our game. Shasta’s field is short and fast.”
With the loss, Shasta, which plays in the Golden Valley Conference, fell to 3-3.
WNC, which plays in the Scenic West Conference (it is 0-1 in league after losing 1-0 to Salt Lake Community College Sept. 15), finished last season 10-8-2, winning the Region 18 tournament before losing in the district playoffs.
The Wildcats face Feather River Community College today in Quincy, Calif. The game begins at 1 p.m.