And a freshman forced into her first varsity game between the goalposts played a deciding role against the Modesto Metro Conference’s second-place team in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.
On their way to a San Joaquin Athletic Association title, the soccer players from Tracy High (18-2-2 overall) have proven they won’t be intimidated. And it showed Thursday in the attitude of fill-in goalie Gabriella Tassano.
Tracy goalkeeper Amanda Simonich had five saves in the first half, but was forced to leave in the second half with an injured thumb.
Tassano didn’t expect to play, but she was determined to not let pressure affect her first game as a varsity player.
“You just play like any other game,” she said. “The girls are always under pressure, but you can’t let it get to you.”
She had two saves in the second half, two in the first 10-minute overtime period, and came out of the box to prevent two shots in the second overtime period. She also denied the Spartans a chance to win the game with a diving save right before the whistle at the end of the second overtime.
“You just have to look at their feet and where they’re going to shoot it,” Tassano said. “You can’t over-analyze it. I just went with it.”
Her effort reflected that of her teammates, who said the Spartans were a tough test.
“They’re fast and aggressive and they have their ball skills,” senior defender Brett Scheckla said, as the Spartans were on Tracy’s side of the field for most of the first half.
“We just held our line and didn’t let anything through. They’re definitely a good team.”
Scheckla added that her team knows the competition will keep getting tougher.
“We just have to keep up the intensity and keep playing like I know we can.”
Tracy had two shots blocked by the Davis goalie before Cailie Chayrez and Autumn Bolton charged the goal and collided with the Spartan goalie and a defender. The ball bounced out of the crowd, and Chayrez pulled off a sliding kick to send it into the goal and put Tracy up 1-0 about 30 minutes into the game.
Davis scored on a penalty kick at the start of the second half to tie it. Davis scored another goal two minutes later to take a 2-1 lead.
The Bulldogs tied it 15 minutes into the half when Chayrez, Bria Outland and Kaitlyn Crone attacked the goal, and Chayrez scored after a deflection off a Davis defender.
In the five-shot penalty kick shootout, each team made four shots, and each team missed a shot.
The Spartans’ sixth shot went over the crossbar, leaving Tracy’s Scheckla the opportunity to send the winning shot into the right side of the net.
Tracy plays next on the road Tuesday, May 15, against Turlock.