Minutes before the game started, Las Positas women’s soccer players wore tight smiles and circled around assistant Coach CJ, who conceded to their whims and broke into a dance. “Whoops” and “Heys” resound from the jovial team, who were fresh off victories against Yuba and Siskiyous College. Though moods could not be more different than at the end of their match against Canada College.
The Sept. 13 unofficial Las Positas women’s soccer versus Canada College game resulted in a 1-0 loss for Las Positas. Tied 0-0 in the first half, Las Positas had numerous opportunities to score but failed to follow through. Only in the final five minutes of the second half did Canada score a goal bleeding with uncertainty.
The goal, by Canada forward Yara Gomez-Zavalda, was received from a corner-kick and sent up by her toe, which ricocheted off the crossbar in a flurry of madness and players. While it was unclear if the ball had entered the goal or not, the referee called it and immediately ended the game.
Ava Buckles, the Las Positas goalkeeper who had a clearer view of the situation, said it did not go fully past the goal line, which is necessary for it to count as a goal.
“It’s upsetting, especially since we worked so hard,” Buckles said.
Las Positas Coach Andrew Cumbo accepted the call. “I have to assume he knows better,” Cumbo said about the referee.
Canada and Las Positas coaches argued with the referee throughout the match, fraught with foul calls. “That was not a foul. They’re college players, they’re gonna go hard,” Cumbo said 10 minutes into the first half after Las Positas had two foul calls.
What isn’t reflected in the 1-0 score is the intensity of the match.
In the first half, Las Positas held steady possession, until 20 minutes in, when they began to panic. Losing the ball at the midline repeatedly, Las Positas had trouble settling high balls and passed in a frenzy, allowing Canada breakaway opportunities.
What persisted and strengthened in the second half, however, was Las Positas’ pressure. An improvement from their season opener against Feather River, Las Positas was far more aggressive and won most of their 1v1s.
Cumbo says the team did a better job at offensive free kicks and improved their defensive shape, which suffered from not spreading out enough in the first half.
Within the first 25 minutes, Las Positas and Canada earned multiple free kicks, and Canada received the first yellow card of three.
Freshman Tiana LaFluer made Las Positas’ first goal attempt at the 27th minute, which went straight to Canada goalie Jenna Vath’s hands. Five minutes later, freshman Irie O’Donnell attempted another unsuccessful shot.
Goalie Ava Buckles is tested at the 32nd minute by a flying 40-yard shot by Canada, where she decisively stepped up the goal box and clutched the ball.
In the last minute of the first half, Las Positas freshman Lauren Soliz received an advance from LaFluer and struck a wide shot that barely flew past Canada’s goal, spurring the trend of last-minute action.
In the second half, sophomore Tiffani Cheng made an unsuccessful shot in the 44th minute. Following her teammate, sophomore Ashley Arno shot from Canada’s 50-yard line but evaded the top of Canada’s goal five minutes later.
Las Positas received their first and only yellow card in the 47th minute.
The closest time Las Positas came to scoring was in the 70th minute by LaFluer. Sprinting on a breakaway, LaFluer darted inwards of Canada’s defense and took a high shot at the 20-yard line, caught by the outstretched hands of Vath.
For Canada’s most notorious yellow card, a Canada substitute stepped inside the field to receive the ball she thought had left the play halfway through the second half. Tensions were high as both teams protested the ball being on or off the field.
Ava Buckles made her best save of the game at the 87th minute, saving Canada’s fast highball attempt with one hand and securing its safety.
Canada College has not lost a game to date, scoring wins against Los Medanos, Santa Rosa and Feather River College. Las Positas and Canada College had their most even match of the season, with a score reflecting it.
Las Positas is slated to play home against Santa Rosa College on Sept.16 at 1:30 p.m.