West Ranch and Hart High girls soccer have tied in the last six times they’ve played each other.
It’s a reasonable outcome for tomorrow’s game, too, given that the Indians are the top team in the league with the Wildcats right on their heels in second place.
“I think the two teams are just very evenly matched technically and physically,” said West Ranch coach Jared White. “For us, we see Hart as a team needs to be knocked off so we tend to rise to the occasion a little bit more.”
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The two teams last met nearly three weeks ago and tied 1-1.
The stakes are higher this time, with only one game left in league after this one and a Foothill League title on the line.
Hart (16-2-4 overall, 4-0-3 in Foothill) is riding a four-game win streak heading into the contest, something coach Guilherme Mitrovitch believes will work in his team’s favor.
“We know it’s going to be very difficult, but we’re definitely I think we’re going to play the game with a little bit more confidence than when we faced them the first time.”
The Indians have begun to click as of recent after starting league play with three ties. They quickly nab second balls by keeping shape and have a strong game in the air, but it’s the back line that’s really become the bedrock for the team.
They say variety is the spice of life, and it might be the Cats’ best bet for a win.
Their attack is speedy and technical and can get to the net in multiple ways.
“We were able to kind of break them down the first time we played them,” White said. “And it’s just about giving them different looks and playing in behind them if you can and stretching out a little bit more than they would like.
“If we can do that with your speed and your midfield, we’ll have a little bit more room to run at their center backs— which is going to be key.”
Aliyah Satterfield, who has 14 goals this season including one against Hart, leads West Ranch (9-3-6 overall, 3-0-4 in Foothill) up front.
“She has a lot of talent,” Mitrovitch said. “We have to do a better job defending her than we did in the first game and understand her and the teams’ offensive trends and be ready to finish. We know the qualities of their offense and we trained the girls to be ready for it.”
Taylor Scott, Taylor Moorehead and Tori Waldeck are top scorers for Hart and are backed up by a deep midfield.
“If we can shut down their midfield and prevent the ball from getting to their dynamic offensive players, we’re going to give ourselves a pretty good shot,” said White.
West Ranch also has plenty of fresh legs waiting to come off the bench on midfield, adding one more evenly-matched element to the game.
“We’ve got a lot of respect or the team. It’s a well-coached team and we had some battles with them, so we’re confident,” Mitrovitch said. “Our expectation is to have a tough, physical battle game and we’ve got to give our best and see what we can get.”