Sophomore Evann Rudek (second from left) races a Vacaville Christian player to the ball during the first half of the May 18 semifinal.

Going into the second half of the semifinals on May 18, the girls’ soccer team faced the immense task of erasing a five-goal deficit.

Despite the girls’ second-half effort, the challenge proved too much, and they fell 2-8 to the first-seeded Vacaville Christian Falcons.

“At halftime (coach George Champayne) encouraged us to try our hardest and see what would happen in the second half,” junior Kaeleigh Valverde said.

In the opening minutes of the second half, the Cavs won a free kick in scoring range. Freshman Abby LaComb put the deep free kick away to put the Cavs on the board.

“The first goal gave us some confidence,” freshman Lia Kaufman said.

“After that, we felt like we could get another one. And it helped us play much better in the second half compared to the first.”

Minutes later, the girls capitalized off a corner kick to make it 2-5. Vacaville Christian’s keeper punched the ball into her own net while trying to clear it.

But the brief success wasn’t sustainable for the rest of the game. Vacaville Christian tacked on three more goals before the final whistle.

The eight goals were the most that the girls allowed all season.

“We knew going into the game just how good they were,” Champayne said. “But injuries made it hard to do what we wanted.”

Senior Emma Belliveau, junior Natalie Brown and freshman Micaela Chen were all out due to illness or injury. They all would have started, according to Champayne.

Four of the Falcons’ eight goals were scored by junior Kirsten Daughtery. She leads the state with 40 goals.

“It’s hard to expect consistency with the defense when there were four different players playing sweeper throughout the year,” Champayne said.

All five goals from Vacaville Christian in the first half came from the left side of their attack.

“Their left side was so hard to stop because they were so quick and skilled,” senior Madison Judd said.

Another consistency problem came from the goalkeepers. Junior Alexa Mathisen started in goal, only her second start, as she suffered from an illness for most of the season.

She was chosen to start because of her experience from previous seasons.  

“I was definitely rusty,” Mathisen said. “I was mentally prepared to play, but physically I was rusty.”

Despite the loss, the girls did make their first semifinal appearance in 14 years.

“Overall it was a very successful season,” Champayne said. “It was unfortunate that we had so many injuries. But I’m very pleased with how far we got.”

Kevin Huang
Coach George Champayne embraces senior Madison Judd (9) and junior Elizabeth Brownridge after the game. Judd played with a sprained ankle and pulled two muscles in her back.

—By Adam Dean

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