Lady Mats Soccer Strives for Repeated NCS Glory


Julie Parks

The team poses under the tent in the moments before their rainy matchup against Encinal. The weather proved to be inconsequential in their comfortable victory. They hope the momentum they gained will help them reclaim the NCS title.

Daniel Konstantino, Staff Writer

Soaking wet and huddled under the team tent, the Lady Mats soccer team faced towards the flag and listened to the national anthem in the moments before the game. Torrential downpour and frigid weather set the scene in the evening of Feb. 17 for their first step towards repeated NCS glory.

The 3-seed Mats rose to the occasion and breezed by the 14-seed Encinal High Jets in a 5-1 thrashing. The ladies’ dominant first half performance saw them up four goals to none before the break. Junior Mia Grillo proved to be a menace for the Encinal back line and led the scoring after netting the first two goals of the night.

“It’s hard to start against an easier team because there is no challenge. On the other hand, it was a great confidence booster,” Grillo said. Senior Gina Crosetti and sophomore Elise Ziem pushed the lead to four with a goal each.

In the second half the Lady Mats parked the bus and eased off the intensity. The Mats mixed up their positions, took out one player, and let their starters rest in order to even out the match. Both sides found the back of the net once.

In their second matchup, the girls fought against Ygnacio Valley (YV). They finished the game with a decisive 2-0 victory. The match was less of a blowout, however. The opponents challenged them physically with an aggressive playing style.

“I think one of the biggest problems with YV was that they triggered our emotions with their dirty play. It got heated,” Grillo said.

The team looks forward to moving away from their home-turf on Wednesday Feb. 24 for their semi-final bout versus the 2-seed St. Mary’s Panthers. The Panthers have only allowed one game to squeak by them this season and have a near perfect record. The game will challenge the Mats more than any of their other opponents so far, but they still have good odds. “They’re a strong team, but the seeding only means so much. It’s definitely winnable,” senior defender Kelly McKeen said.

Often times teams will load their schedule with out-of-league, significantly worse teams in order to buffer their NCS rankings. These teams’ excellent records can usually be taken with a grain of salt. However, no NCS semi-finalist can be taken lightly. “Don’t get me wrong. This is going to be a hard-fought battle either way,” McKeen added.