Women's Soccer Pull And Scratch Their Way To Victory
By Eric Licas
Corsair Staff Writer
The Lady Corsairs exceptional season this year has painted a target on their backs that some competitors can only seem to strike with a fist.
This past Fri. Oct.16, in the midst of a dominant performance from the SMC women's soccer team against the LA Valley Monarchs, a resentful Monarch player fouled and then instigated a shoving match with Corsair midfielder Xochitl Salagdo.
According to head coach Aaron Benditson, the incident – which resulted in the ejection of both players – was a product of both their opponents' frustrations and the Corsair's own inability to control their emotions.
"These girls have a lot to play for," said coach Benditson. "They bring so much passion to each game (and) to see them handle the situation that way was disheartening [but] I don't want this to overshadow all that we've succeeded in doing this season."
The Corsairs dominated practically every aspect of the game, taking home the victory with a score of 2-1, as their offense consistently outhustled the Monarchs down the wings and effectively set up their center players with clean cross kicks. "[Had we capitalized on earlier scoring opportunities] we could have scored as many as 6 or 7 goals that game instead of two," said Benditson.
Forward Mercy Tejada would make the Corsair dominance official with the first goal of the game late in the first period. By the second half The Corsairs had seemed to establish a rhythm and exhibited a keen aware to their surroundings.
"They were passing very well," said Corsair fan, Nigel Toates.
The Monarchs left no space for comfort, however, and relentlessly challenged any Corsair with possession of the ball. Under an increasingly intense atmosphere defender Caitlin Rutherford would manage to score a goal, which would solidify SMC's command of the game midway through the second period.
As regulation time came to a close, aggressive defensive plays and penalty kicks began to characterize the game. Eventually, enabling the Monarch's frustration to give way to the incident.
It would take a few minutes before officials would regain control of the situation and it was clear that, as rivals exchanged harsh words between each other, the seeds of conflict had been sown.
Shortly after play resumed, a defensive tackle by the Corsairs caused the Monarchs to start a shouting match on the field. The Monarch player involved received a yellow card for her actions, while her team was awarded a penalty kick in response to the tackle. The Monarchs would mange to capitalize on the penalty in a scramble, however it was too little too late.
Both teams attempted to close the game with a show of reconciliation by cheering their opponents name in their huddle and offering a round of high-fives. However, the Corsairs seemed to leave the field with a sour taste in their mouth.
The unsettling collapse of sportsmanship at the end of Friday's game took its toll on the players and coaching staff of both teams that evening. "We've come a long way, but we've still got things to work on," said Benditson.
Still, one cannot deny what the Corsairs have accomplished this season.
The Santa Monica women's soccer team is a competitor in what has become a four horse race this season in the Western State Southern Division. Unfortunately some of the participants cannot reconcile themselves with bringing up the rear.
The Lady Corsairs came into the game only days after a hard fought 3-3 tie against the College of the Canyons Cougars last Tues., Oct. 13. The game went back and forth throughout both periods and saw three lead changes. In the last minute of the match, Salgado had to be subbed out of the game after suffering a mild concussion, leading to midfielder Natalie Martinez scoring the game-tying goal. Midfielder Kelsea Rock and Salgado contributed a goal apiece.
With five games left in the season, the Corsairs are ranked third in their conference and ninth in the state. Their endeavor to make progress in their conference standing has drawn the attention of several teams throughout their division, many of which may be hard pressed to vent their resentment on the playing field.