Napa slips past Los Medanos, 2-1

Napa+slips+past+Los+Medanos%2C+2-1

Dexter Dunzweiler

Luke Johnson and Dexter Dunzweiler

In the most heated game of the season, the Los Medanos College Mustangs brought their A-game last Friday, but still fell short to the Napa Valley College Storm 2-1. A warm and breezy afternoon set the scene for an exciting battle between two teams attempting to capture their first win.

In the absence of head coach Mark Bryant due to personal family business, LMC’s Assistant Coach Heather Wren assumed head coaching responsibilities for this scheduled competition.

The Storm took control early on, limiting the Mustangs to few offensive possessions. LMC’s defense was once again put into a do or die situation. Defensive players Lexi Kos and Daniella Amaya kicked up their intensity, making key saves in individual efforts. The rest of the team fed off their energy and came together as a collective unit.

“Today is the best that they have played,” said Wren. “They played with so much heart.” But the Storms’ constant offensive attack was too much, and a loose ball ricocheted off an LMC player, catching goalkeeper Kara Leffle off guard, and rolled into the back of the net for the first goal.

After the Storm took the lead it seemed as if the Mustangs gave up hope, failing to create a shot attempt in the first half. Leffle took up the slack by picking up several blocks before halftime.

“When we got scored on the first goal we just gave up for a little bit,” said Leffle, “But I think we need to work on being a team and being more aggressive.”

LMC returned for the second half with a different attitude, as they quickly gained possession and pushed the ball down field. After a couple assorted passes LMC forward Isabella Enriquez was able to find twine, capturing her first goal of the season.

This score was one of the biggest obstacles the Mustangs had overcome in the early stages of the season. Distracted by their achievement, NVC mid-fielder Isabel Garcia broke up the center of the field and scored with a perfectly placed kick from 25 yards out just three minutes after LMC tied the game. “I think we lost our composure. We got a little excited. We lost our focus for that split-second and they capitalized on it,” said Wren.

Although playing with a deficit again, the Mustangs did not let go of their spirits and continued to fight hard with 31 minutes remaining in regulation.

With both teams eager to earn their first win, a combative playing style escalated until the final whistle. A lot of pushing and shoving took place in this contentious atmosphere that went without penalty.

With 14 minutes left NVC set up for a corner kick. After launching the ball in the air a Storm forward attempted for a header, but the ball ended up brutishly bouncing off two LMC defensive players’ heads. Kos and Bethany Rowell lay on the ground grasping their heads in agony while they received immediate attention from the trainers. Both athletes were able to leave the field on their own power as they were applauded by the crowd, but neither returned to play.
NVC set up for another corner kick succeeding the injury timeout. This time an altercation among a host of players ensued, resulting in Leffle knocking Garcia to the ground.

Napa Valley College Head Coach Brad Williams ran onto the field screaming, “Come on ref, take control!”
The head referee pulled Garcia aside to have an extended talk, before he assessed her and the Mustang goalie a yellow card. Soon after as the game proceeded, NVC was off on a fastbreak. Two of their forwards were able to slip past the defense and create a 2-on-0 breakaway.

With the game lingering in the balance, an NVC forward kicked the ball 15 yards in front of the net. Leffle leaped as high as she could to just barely get her fingertips on the ball preventing Napa from scoring another goal.

LMC had dug itself in another hole when NVC defensive player Savannah Gobelman set up for a crucial penalty kick from only 10 yards out. With only five minutes to go in the game it looked as if NVC was going to lock this thing up. Determined to give her team a fighting chance, Leffle dove for the bottom left corner of the name successfully making the biggest save of the game. But with little time left, the Mustangs were not able to rally behind her losing the game and falling to 0-3 on the season.

“LMC definitely put up a tough fight,” Williams said. “Their keeper came up huge a bunch of times to stop us, especially on the penalty kick. Credit to them for making it really tough on us.”
The team will be playing at Yuba College today at 3:30 p.m. and on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at home against Contra Costa College.