Each set piece is a potential goal. It takes the right amount of planning mixed with the right amount of instinct to send the ball into the net, but the Hart girls soccer team was able to strike a near-perfect balance on Wednesday against San Marcos of Santa Barbara.
After a scoreless first half, the Indians scored on two set pieces to set up a 4-1 win over the Royals at Hart.
“We’ve been looking for the corner, the near connection and I think that really just broke the ice and we started scoring from there,” said Kendall de la Vega, who scored Hart’s second goal.
Alyssa Irwin knocked in the first goal of the game at the start of the second half on a header off a set piece. De la Vega scored in similar fashion with a header off a set piece in the 25th minute to give the Indians a 2-0 advantage.
Although the Indians were able to score from the corner in the second half, they struggled in the first half. Scoring opportunities were created, but Hart was unable to capitalize against a San Marcos defense that was aggressive through the air.
In the 36th minute of the first half, Ally Thompson was able to take a shot from the top right corner of the box, but the ball rolled wide right of the net. Minutes later in extra time, Delaney Schamber executed a header on a set piece situation that grazed the crossbar.
“The amount of chances and possession we had, we wish we had maybe turned some of them into goals,” said coach Guilherme Mitrovitch, “but it was important that we tried to stay positive and the girls knew that they were going and they had the whole second half to separate from them and the girls did.”
Irwin and de la Vega scored after the Indians peppered the Royals with even more shots and pushing up further into the attacking third. San Marcos was able to score its lone goal of the game in the 71st minute, but Hart was able to recuperate.
Seven minutes later, Mia Petralia took a shot from the right side of the box that bent over the goal line just far enough to count. Ally Thompson was able to get a shot through some traffic in extra time for insurance and put the Indians up 4-1.
“I definitely think G’s pep talk at halftime and we realized that they played flat and if we stayed wide enough we would be able to break them down on the sidelines,” de la Vega said of the difference in the second half. “We’re fast enough to beat them and I think it was just, we settled down and didn’t panic and we got on our own roll.”
The Indians’ win comes just ahead of Foothill League play, which, for Hart, begins against Golden Valley on Friday. The team is playing for a potential sixth consecutive undefeated league season.
“That’s definitely what we’re looking for,” said de la Vega. “And I think just as a whole we want to get along on and off the field, that would be great. I think the seniors especially, we all just want to have a great last year and just go out there and win.”