Bulls and Redwood Girls Tie in Rematch of Last Year’s MCAL Championship

It did not seem like the first MCAL game of the season. Rather, a playoff atmosphere was felt by the players, by the coaches, and by the fans. The media was on hand. With the bleachers removed from Ryan Field, the fans crowded the sidelines, closer to the action. Both teams seemed anxious.

The early action was controlled by Branson. Eliana Prosnitz (Sr) initiated the first dangerous chance with a drive down the sideline and a cross over all-league keeper Mia Hamant that was just out of reach of forwards Caitlin Evers (So) and Sydney Hwang (Jr). Moments later, Noelle Namba (Jr) found Emma Allen (So) for a shot from 25 yards out. At the 15 minute mark, Evers made a terrific one-touch pass to Abby Dillon (Sr) who found Prosnitz open at the 15-yard line. Prosnitz’s shot went straight at the keeper and the game remained scoreless.  

And then Redwood found its groove. Player of the Year Grace Bouton connected repeatedly with fellow all leaguer Maya Rembrandt. Rembrandt had multiple dangerous chances in the half as Branson had no answer for her speed and skill. Redwood was able to use their defensive backs to penetrate Branson repeatedly as all leaguer Sophia Cortez took several drives up the middle from her center back position. Branson held on and must have felt relieved that the game was still 0-0 at the half.

Relief did not last long. Redwood winger Rembrandt drove down the wing to earn a corner in the first moments of the second half. On the subsequent corner, the ball bounced out to the 18-yard line where Rembrandt lay waiting and crushed a shot to the right corner. An early goal –it seemed like it might be too much to overcome against the skilled Redwood squad.

A few moments later, Redwood had the chance to seal the deal on another set play – a free kick from 40 yards out. But Marina Andreadis’s (Sr) incredible bicycle kick of a loose ball on the goal line preserved the 1-0 deficit. It was a pivotal save, and Branson would control much of the rest of the game and began pressuring Redwood in multiple attacks.

Prosnitz forced a Redwood turnover and drove to the net, getting through the defense for a breakaway chance. Her near post shot banged off the post. Branson knew they could score. Avery Hansen (Jr) who was lockdown defensively on her side began getting more assertive on the offensive front and had several dangerous overlaps including a great opportunity to Namba. In the 20th minute, Dillon fought down the sideline to create some space and sent a dangerous cross into the box. Prosnitz poked the ball from the Redwood defender and slotted a far-post shot for the tying and final goal.  

Defensively, Lena Sugrue (So) and Andreadis kept Bouton under control.  While Bouton was able to make some great passes, she was unable to get her own shot off. It was an incredible effort by the two central defenders against the league’s premier attacker.

The Bulls showed they would again be a force in MCAL. 

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by Eric Prosnitz