Playoff hopes take a hit after Lady Highlanders fall to Troy
Story and photos by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal
For the La Habra girls’ soccer team, hopes of reaching the postseason took a major blow after a 3-0 loss to Troy, Thursday afternoon at La Habra High.
With the loss, the Lady Highlanders will need to beat Sonora on Tuesday next week in order to stay in contention for a birth in the CIF playoffs.
The Lady Highlanders looked stronger and more focused against Troy (14-4-3, 7-1-0) in comparison to their prior 5-0 loss to the Lady Warriors.
Though possession was even, the Lady Warriors capitalized on their counterattacks and overcame a resilient Lady Highlanders squad. The Lady Warriors scored their first two goals before the 30 minute mark on isolation plays from their strikers.
La Habra (9-9-2, 3-5-0) struggled to stop the Lady Warriors’ star players, but played sound fundamental soccer for most of the game.
“It was more isolated incidents that we have to work on and situations we have to fix as opposed to an entire team not showing up to play properly,” said Matt Sanger, La Habra head coach. “That’s what we faced last time.”
The Lady Highlanders were led by Sam Sipes who took advantage of the wet conditions to dominate the midfield.
“It’s fun, you get to slide a lot,” she said, covered in mud. “I just made sure I put in 110% and (kept) fighting.”
“Sam for me was the player of the game, she was all over the place,” Sanger said. “Defensively she was working her butt off, winning everything in the air. She’s getting down sliding to win balls. Offensively, every time she won the ball she was able to look up and find a striker and create stuff.”
Sipes strong play lasted until she cramped up on the sideline with 10 minutes left.
“What I just saw from Sam was an unbelievable amount of work and she cramped up because of how much work she put into it,” Sanger said.
The Lady Highlanders are fortunate not to lose their top midfielder for significant time, however they did lose Ashley Bello to what could be a serious ankle injury. Bello missed the entire second half with the injury and was not seen on the bench.
With a crucial game against Sonora slated for next Tuesday, the Lady Highlanders will need to dig deep to get revenge on Sonora’s home field.
La Habra welcomed Sara Weiland back, who played her first game since league began, on Tuesday against Sunny Hills, but, in addition to Bello, is already without Darriell Franklin who missed her fourth consecutive game.
The Lady Highlanders will focus their attention on the offensive end to take a lead early.
“It’s not so much a physical tactical thing, it is more of a mental thing,” Sanger said.
The Lady Highlanders have needed to focus on defense against Sunny Hills and Troy, the top teams in the league. Sanger believes his Lady Highlanders are capable of controlling possession and attacking the Lady Raiders.
“They are waiting for the perfect shot to come up, but the perfect shot doesn’t come up,” Sanger said.
With this in mind the Lady Highlanders can expect to increase defensive pressure and be opportunistic.
“The big thing is just focusing on taking opportunities, taking shots when you have it, not waiting for the perfect one, just taking a good one,” Sanger said, “We want to stay in their half as much as possible, then we also need to realize that we can shoot the ball from 25 and 30 yards.”