By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
PETALUMA — It didn’t take long on Thursday night for the Petaluma girls’ soccer team to serve notice to SCL foe El Molino that the Trojans would be in control of the game.
It took less than 30 seconds in fact.
Petaluma’s Sophia Payne booted in a seven-yard goal off a well-placed centering pass from teammate Kierra Lizama on the game’s first possession to set the tone. Host Petaluma (9-3-2 overall and 7-1-2 in the SCL) never looked back and rolled to a 3-0 win in a game that was lopsided in every facet.
“I think the girl marking me overshifted,” Payne said of her strike. “It was a good start and gave us momentum. Our team scores really early in the game usually.”
El Molino (5-10-1, 0-10-0) remains winless in league play and was overmatched from the start. Petaluma had 18 shots on-goal to zero for the Lions.
“We are having trouble possessing the ball and moving the ball wide to get position,” El Molino coach Tomas Acuna said. “This is a rebuilding year for us. We are learning and taking small steps every game.”
Petaluma had a goal nullified when Marissa Bordessa’s picture-perfect 30-yard shot was ruled a no goal by the referee who blew the whistle to end the half as the ball was in mid-flight towards the net.
The referee clarified that when time is up to end the half it doesn’t matter if the ball is in the air. Unless the ball is over the goal line when the whistle is blown — which it wasn’t — it is not a goal.
Despite the unfortunate timing for Petaluma to end the first half, the Trojans rallied in the second half, scoring two goals to seal the win.
“I’m really happy how we moved the ball and kept possession,” Petaluma coach Kevin Richardson said. “Our young kids did a great job and our midfield played well.”
In the 56th minute, Petaluma’s Michele Garrone kicked in a 12-yard goal off a feed from McKenzie Maher. In the 74th minute, Bordessa got a goal that counted, off a header via a corner kick from Shelby Evenich.
“I don’t know if I was marked or not but I just went for it,” Bordessa said.
The game could have easily been much more of a lopsided score in favor of the Trojans had they been proficient in converting one-on-one scoring opportunities.
Petaluma had nearly 10 breakaways with an attacker coming right at El Molino’s freshman goalie Jocey Santibanez. The Trojans could not convert a single break-away opportunity, either shooting the ball over the crossbar, wide of the goal or right at Santibanez, who held steady between the posts and made 14 saves.
“She (Santibanez) had a good game. She stopped a lot of shots. I was impressed with her goalkeeping,” Richardson said. “We have to improve on the practice ground our one-on-one finishing.”
“I’m disappointed about our unsuccessful finishing tonight,” Garrone added. “We should have had eight goals.”
It wasn’t perfection for the Trojans but they will take it nonetheless as they continue the hunt for the SCL title.