Vikings, Panthers battle to a draw

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A tale of two halves left the Santa Rosa and Montgomery girls’ soccer squads looking up at a tie score at the end of two overtimes Wednesday.

Montgomery's Chelsea Frostick goes up for the ball against Santa Rosa's Vanessa Pena during Thursday's game. (Crista Jeremiason / PD)

After taking an early lead, Santa Rosa controlled much of the first half with long crossing passes and scoring chances combined with sturdy defense.

Coming out of halftime with more energy and the playmaking that can make Montgomery tough to beat, the Vikings evened the score at 1-1 and might have gone ahead if not for Santa Rosa’s superb goalkeeping.

A pair of spirited extra periods didn’t change the result.

“We stuck together and just didn’t give up. The girls were pumped up,” said Santa Rosa goalkeeper Shawnee Phillips.

Tying their rivals at home didn’t feel good, but Montgomery’s players were pleased with a strong finish.

“I guess we just wanted it more. But we can’t keep starting out slow and picking it up,” said Montgomery midfielder Destiny Albaugh, who scored the Vikings’ goal.

Expecting a tough game from a resurgent Santa Rosa team, Montgomery still was a step slower as the Panthers opened with an attack that produced several scoring opportunities.

Crossing balls into space with midfielders serving forwards often on the run, Santa Rosa found openings throughout the first half. But none was better than Destinie Gacusana serving a ball right to left to Vanessa Pena for a quick shot into the goal before defenders and the goalie could get in position.

Santa Rosa came close, but couldn’t add to the lead. On one series, Amanda LaLonde made a long run against tough defense and got off a shot that led to a Panthers’ corner kick. Pena’s boot banged off the top corner of the goal and out.

While the Vikings won turnovers, they couldn’t capitalize. One Montgomery shot went just wide after Phillips couldn’t clear a loose ball that blasted off a pair of players. A free kick sailed just high on a set play, and Santa Rosa back Jill Anderson cleared a ball just off the line.

Montgomery did a better job of passing in combinations and changing direction in the second half to get more open shots. The pressure produced an early score.

Pushing up from the Vikings’ back line, Chelsea Frostick served a cross into space where Albaugh broke through the middle, settled the ball and booted it into the left corner of the goal.

“I wanted to get there before anyone because I’m not the fastest. I was just looking for the corner,” she said.

The best chances in overtime were snuffed out by strong goalkeeping.

Phillips tipped and grabbed a shot by Montgomery’s Alyssa Anderson that appeared headed into the net. The Panthers’ keeper then leaped to punch a shot from Amy Mitchell just over the crossbar.

A Santa Rosa free kick squirted through traffic where Gacusana got a foot on it, but Montgomery keeper Taylor McNeany sprawled to haul in the ball.