Last week was the end of the line for the Lady Cowboys varsity soccer team, with the intense regional quarter-final and semi-final games closing out the 2017-2018 season. After beating the Taravella Trojans 6-1 on Tuesday, February 6, the Cowboys moved on to regional semi-finals against Cypress Bay High on Friday, February 9 and lost in penalty kicks with a final score of 3-2.
Going into the quarter-final game, the Cowboys did not know what to expect, knowing only the record of their opponent.
“Some of the players came out expecting that we were going to have a super close game due to the stats against Cypress,” sophomore Kimberly Slinkosky said. “Taravella tied them throughout the game and eventually lost in penalty kicks. Since we came out strong we were able to get in some quick goals and get the lead on them.”
When the whistle blew, the Trojans started with the ball. Within the first 25 minutes the Cowboys were up by one goal scored by Slinkosky, who then assisted the next goal scored by Abbi Gilchrist, making the score 2-0. At this point the Cowboys had set the tone of the game, and they maintained possession of the ball.
Before long, the game became a more serious, physical match-up. When Olivia Lewis from the Cowboys went in hard to get the ball from the center forward, taking her to the ground, the referee called a foul on Lewis. Forward Victoria Ramos dropped back to defend the kick off of the foul, and defenders Kylee Griffin and Jasmine O’Harra prevented anyone from getting the rebounded ball.
After this, the Cowboys’ goalie, Kaitlyn Trimmel punted all the way to half field where Abbi Gilchrist applied pressure to the Trojan defense, giving the Cowboys a corner kick. Cowboy Annie Clark scored on this kick, and the first yellow card of the game came right after when a Trojan player abruptly bodied the Cowboy defender, taking the Cowboys into halftime, 3-0.
The half started with renewed tension, and another Taravella player received a yellow card. Slinkosky scored her second goal of the night, making the score 4-0. Giving it right back to the Cowboys, Taravella was able to score their first goal of the night, making the score 4-1.
While the girls fought it out on the field, ambition to win came over some of the fans and parents in the stands. With so many fouls being called, some of the Taravella parents began to chant derogatory things, offending players and spectators alike. As the game progressed police officers began to gather, and by its end there were 4-6 cops present for the safety of the players, referees, coaches, and crowd.
One of the Taravella coaches became involved, and was yellow carded as a warning, putting a strain on the Trojans. The game went on, but it was not long before the chanting and physical plays led to more conflict. The referee pulled out his blue card, signaling unsportsmanlike conduct towards himself, and requiring the player to sit out of the game for 2-5 minutes. At this, Taravella’s coach again became fired up, and the referee gave her a red card, ejecting her from the game. The game paused as the coach was escorted off the sideline by golf cart, to remain behind the gate for the rest of the game.
“I thought that the game was a very aggressive and intense one.” Lady Cowboys’ captain Cailin Reto said. “I don’t honestly think there was anything we could have done better with that game because of the team we were going against, we had crossing and attacking movement as well as getting back to defend.”
Once the confusion had subsided, freshman Kelly Nelson scored for the Cowboys, bringing the game to 5-1. Senior Berlin Rodriguez was then called for being offsides. To close out the game Danielle Gilchrist scored, taking a free kick just outside the box after a handball had been called. The final score was 6-1, and the Cowboys move on to play Cypress Bay High School on Friday, February 9.
To start the game off Cypress had the ball, Cowboys pressed early trying to set a tone for the game and give it their all, start to finish. The ball remained in the Cooper City half for most of the game but it put their defensive training to the test. The Lightning almost had the chance to score again once the Cowboys received a foul, but that was stopped by the Cowboys’ goalie.
Just before halftime Ramos almost got a breakaway, but the Cypress Bay defender was fast and strong. Lewis then got the ball on midfield, sending it up to Sarah Molina, who was then faced with three defenders pressuring her right away. The whistle blew and it was still 0-0 at halftime.
Anxiety grew in the crowd as the game started back up, and people were walking back and forth through the stands as each team would inch closer to one another’s boxes. Cooper had started up with the ball, but right after kickoff the Lightning stole the ball to shoot right away and missed. Slinkosky then crossed the ball into Danielle Gilchrist. The ball was then brought back down to the Cooper City half, the center backs then worked together with the midfield who then worked with the outside backs to get the ball. Time was running out and neither team had scored.
Once the first official time of the game had been taken up, the final was 0-0, going into over time. Over time would be played with two 10-minute halves equaling 20 minutes. After this was played it went the entire time still 0-0. This meant one thing – penalty kicks.
“Sadly the season had to come to end, and of course it was because of penalty kicks,” Reto said.
Lewis made the first penalty kick, Cypress scored as well, Danielle Gilchrist then scored, and so did Cypress, so the teams were tied 2-2. Both teams missed the next shot, and then Cypress scored once more when Cooper did not, ending the game at 3-2.
The end to the long, hard season was tear-filled and emotional, with the girls proud of how far they have come but disappointed that it could not have lasted longer. Their final record for the 2017/2018 season was.
Photo by Kyle Nelson