West Salem — Looking at the final result, you’d assume that West Salem absolutely dominated the Mavericks in the game, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. While the better team might have won the match, this game was certainly a battle between two heavyweights that are both chasing the same team, the defending state champion Jesuit Crusaders.
West Salem Strikes Late First Half, Takes Halftime Momentum
This one was a battle from the very start, with West Salem and Mountainside flipping back in forth throughout the midfield for possession. After 23 minutes of occasional quality shot attempts and mostly possession fight, the two teams battled in the 24th minute to a combined four quality shots on goal, resulting in great saves from Mountainside’s Sidney O’Billovich and West Salem’s Abby Knoll. The Lady Titans finally broke through in the 33rd minute, when Paige Alexander took the ball coast to coast and was denied by O’Billovich, but Madison McDougal took the rebound and put it back in the net for the goal and a 1-0 West Salem lead. The rest of the half would feature more of the same midfield action and occasional quality shots, but no more breakthroughs entering the break.
The Lady Titans Triumph On Mountainside Mistakes, Pull Away In The Second Half
In the second half, the teams picked up where they left off and continued their high quality play, but a Mavericks mistake resulted in a 56th minute penalty kick for Fatima Jiminez, and she finished with a kick to the right side to make it a 2-0 West Salem advantage. In the 64th minute, Amani Noor scored by drilling one-timer past O’Billovich, making it 3-0 and further concreting a Lady Titans win. Paige Alexander would tack on a penalty kick with less than five minutes remaining, and #4 West Salem took it 4-0 over the top-ranked Mountainside Mavericks at the Black Hole.
Interviewing A Host Of Lady Titans
With a win over #1 Mountainside under their belts, Head Coach Whitney Pitalo handed me a host of Lady Titans to interview, providing a bunch of perspective from the Lady Titans themselves on a few topics. Here are my talks with Olivia Orozco, Sarah Rice, Paige Alexander, Abby Knoll, and Amani Noor:
Rice on the momentum going into league play, “This gave us a lot of confidence and momentum, which is something we really need going into league. We also need to keep our heads and know what we can play and not get too confident.”
Knoll on the defensive performance, “Our center backs were so good in this match, they have a great forward (Nedya Sawan) who just stops like everything. When she gets it she stops and turns, so it was really crucial for our center backs to rise and they stepped it up. Every time Olivia was there, they were stopped every time.”
Alexander on facing three consecutive top teams as a first year player, “Its been really fun, competitive, and its just been really fun to compete knowing that we can play with the highest ranked teams. Honestly these last couple of weeks have been just been competitive and fun, I’m proud of my team and its awesome!”
Noor on picking up the win even with the lack of offensive touches, “We know that when they make mistakes that’s our opportunity. Even if we don’t come out strong because we know that’s how the game works, but if you get the ball in the back of the net your up already. We aren’t a one minded offense, we want the opposition think were doing something and then change it up on them.”
Orozco on the 1-0-2 stretch against Jesuit, Sherwood, and Mountainside, “I’m very satisfied with the results from our team, obviously I think we could’ve shown a better result against Sherwood, but honestly it was just our mindset and tonight we proved we can have a strong mindset and beat the #1 team.”
Mountainside wraps up non-conference on Thursday against Lincoln, West Salem is off until next Tuesday against McNary in Keizer