Robledo’s breakdown: This might sound crazy, but in terms of creating chances and work through the run of play, Walnut is the best team I’ve seen. I can’t recall a team missing as many point-blank opportunities as them, but I’ll take my chances with a team that creates that much. They’re clearly frustrated, but once the goals start falling, they will come in bunches, but It better happen soon or they will miss the playoffs. But if they get in, they can win a CIF title. I would roll the dice with them over any team in the area. Their forwards are great, they’re quick, they hold the ball well, but on breakaways they need to slow down and gather themselves on their final touch, it appears they’re rushing everything in front of the goal and it has snowballed on them. It’s like they’re firing away hoping it goes in instead of concentrating on the final shot. But hey, creating opportunities is a good problem to have. Bonita was very lucky yesterday, why they ran an offside trap that much I don’t understand. When you’re defenders aren’t as quick as the opposing forwards, your inviting trouble. They got away with it this time, but you can’t rely on a team missing nine breakaways in the future.
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
The Bonita High School girls soccer team pushes forward at every opportunity, forcing its opponents to play on a small field and creating a more physical game, much to its liking. It’s risky, especially because it invites counter-attacking opportunities, but given Walnut’s track record of missing breakaways this season, it wasn’t such a bad game plan after all.
Bonita only had four legitimate scoring chances against visiting Walnut on Thursday, but the Bearcats converted twice, and that was enough to sneak away with a 2-1 victory that keeps their Hacienda League title hopes alive while leaving the Mustangs on the playoff bubble with a week left before the postseason begins. (To continue, click thread).
Bonita improved to 14-4-2 and 7-2 with Walnut dropping to 11-7-2 and 5-4-1.
“It’s a win, we’ll take it,” Bonita coach Lynsee Bock said. “It’s not one of our better games, I dug into the girls at halftime and could tell from our warm-ups we would struggle today.”
Bock dug into them because they allowed the Mustangs five breakaway opportunities in the first-half alone, the Mustangs repeatedly beating their attempt at an offside trap. But Bock got to exhale, because the Mustangs couldn’t finish any of them.
Bonita forward Crystal Frisan missed her share of breakaway chances, but Stephanie Catono came away even more frustrated, missing three opportunities in a five-minute span in the first half, one of which ricocheted off the crossbar and off the line — though Catono pleaded with the official that it had crossed for a goal.
It grew even more frustrating for Catono later. With players in an offside position, Catono smartly raced through a trap and was ready to fire, but was whistled offside, even though she did all the work on her own.
It was that kind of game and it has been that kind of season according to Walnut coach Lorraine Hansen.
Bonita led at half because it converted its lone scoring opportunity, forward Haille Worrell heading home Kellie Creese’s corner for a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.
“It’s been like this every single game,” said Hansen. “How many chances can you miss? It’s just frustrating, especially for the kids. I’m happy with the effort they’re putting out there. They’re outplaying most of their opponents, but it’s frustrating when you can’t finish.”
Bonita’s Katie Pichotta really put Walnut on its heels, scoring in the 55th minute to go up 2-0.
Walnut kept attacking and finally converted when Ari Anaya’s cross to Catono was so perfect, all she had to do was touch it forward from a yard out, cutting the Bearcats’ lead to 2-1 in the 61st minute.
It appeared Catono might tie the match on a breakaway in the 80th minute, but she was whistled offside and the game ended shortly later.
Although several of Walnut’s missed opportunities were simply missed shots, Bearcats goalkeeper Jesse Vargas deserves a lot of credit too. She forced many of the bad shots and made three point-blank saves.
“It’s one of those wins you say, ‘thank God we squeaked through that.’” Bock said. “They’re a great team, a great side. I love this league and the competition, every game is like this.”
Walnut’s loss drops it to fourth in the Hacienda and dangerously close to not making the playoffs. But if the Mustangs rebound next week and make it, which includes a game against league-leading Los Altos, Hansen feels they could be a sleeper in the playoffs.
“I don’t want to sound cocky or anything like that but honestly, I don’t think there is a team out there that has actually outplayed us,” Hansen said. “You have to give the other teams credit, but really this has been about us defeating ourselves all year by not putting the ball in the back of the net. That’s what makes every game so frustrating. If we can solve that, we will be a tough team to beat.”