Sports: Bears Capture Victory in First Rematch v. Leland Since Semi-Finals
In a fantastic display of teamwork, the Lady Bears captured a powerful 8-6 win over Leland High School in the teams' first matchup since M-A lost to the Chargers in the semifinal round of CCS last season.
Both teams came out strong, with an initial goal by M-A and a quick counter by Leland. However, M-A's defense was soon shocked again by Leland’s impressive shooting ability, as the Chargers took the lead.
The Bears quickly adapted to the Chargers’ style, holding them offensively throughout the duration of the quarter.
With only two minutes left, senior Samantha Henze took possession of the ball, swam down the pool and quickly executed a well-calcualted pass to senior Nicole Zanolli, who tied up the game. After the Chargers let off a quick turnover, junior Kiki Canny was able to score on the Bears’ last possession of the quarter, leaving M-A ahead 3-2.
In the second quarter the Bears strengthened their defense, letting off only two unexpected outside shots by Leland, which were blocked by senior goalie, Sierra Sheeper.
Offensively, the Bears doubled their points with two more goals by Heilman, as well as a goal by junior Fiona Jackson.
Throughout the second half, the Bears’ held their lead. Sheeper led the team defensively with seven blocks in the second half.
Heilman led offensively with the final two goals, including the highlight of the game—a beautiful left-handed goal just over the goalie while being heavily guarded on her right by a Leland player.
Given their history with Leland, and new coach Paul Felton at the helm, the Bears were very happy with the outcome of the game.
“We let a couple [goals] go early, but then we were able to realize what Leland was doing offensively, and control their play,” Coach Felton reflects.
Heilman elaborated on Felton’s sentiment, saying she believes the game was “the best [the Bears] have played this season,” and that she “saw a huge improvement in [their] play” and in her team's ability to work together.
Like her coach and teammate, Henze believes that M-A did a good job “shutting [Leland] down” despite strong offensive play, and that the game showed significant improvement.
However, the two seniors and their coach all agree the team still has work to do before CCS.
Coach Felton sees the game as a good “benchmark” for how M-A will match up to Leland in CCS, but believes it is still too early to tell the direction in which the championship tournament will go..
The game comes after a relatively victorious beginning of the season for the Bears, who began the season with a scrimmage win against Valley Christian.
They went on to beat Castilleja, and then Aragon in their first PAL matchup of the season.
Two weeks ago, the ladies played in the annual St. Francis tournament, where they finished 7th with 2 wins and 2 losses against a variety of strong competitors.
Felton holds that it is playing such challenging teams as they faced in the tournament and against Leland, that will raise the girls to the level of play needed to win CCS.
He looks forward to the coming weeks, when they will have a chance to play in the NorCal and Davis tournaments.