The Highlanders traveled to Bishop O’Dowd on January 14 and earned a 2-2 draw against the Dragons in an exciting back-and-forth contest.
Piedmont brought great energy to this perennial league rivalry, setting the tone early by scoring just 90 seconds into the game. Junior Zozo Tahawi pressured a goal kick played wide to an O’Dowd defender, leading to a hurried pass that senior Fiona Hunter was able to intercept. Hunter took one touch toward goal and fired low and hard from 20 yards out into the right corner past the diving Dragons goalkeeper, Trinity Cooper.
The early goal seemed to fire up both teams, with fast-paced, physical play on both sides. Bishop O’Dowd evened the score at the 13-minute mark, as the Dragon’s senior captain Grace Porter blasted an unstoppable shot into the far upper corner of the net from just inside the box.
But the Highlanders kept up their intensity and pressure, and just eight minutes later reclaimed the lead. Freshman forward Emily Fitzgerald, with her unrelenting high pressure, closed in on the Dragon’s center back as she tried to clear the ball. Fitzgerald blocked the attempted clearance, collected the ball, and powered a shot to the upper post to give the Highlanders a 2-1 lead.
The lead would not hold long though, as O’Dowd’s Katerina Senn received a pass with her back to goal. With a quick turn and shot, Senn put the ball into the corner of the net to even the score at 2-2 before the half.
The star of the second half was Piedmont’s freshman goalkeeper Morgan Hunt, who made three key saves to keep the score even.
Despite strong and tenacious defense by Piedmont’s back line anchored by Lucy Barrett, Nina Goldberg and Sarah Lim and supported by defending midfielder Ashley Nelson, the Dragons were able to find open players on the weak side on several occasions that led to dangerous scoring opportunities. But Hunt – perhaps inspired by the raucous cheering of several former Highlander players who came out to encourage their former team, including former goalie standout Gracie Ellis – delivered a break-out performance and turned away Bishop O’Dowd’s open shots on goal.
Hunt’s highlight of the night came with ten minutes left in the game, when she got her fingertips on a long-range shot that seemed certain to find the upper corner, deflecting the ball away from goal.
The back-and-forth play continued throughout the game, as the Highlanders worked hard to try to create scoring opportunities of their own. In the final two minutes of the game, senior Peri Ozsoy found space and connected on a solid long-range shot but sent it wide of the goal.
Although a home team prankster showed 3-2 on the scoreboard after time expired, the game did in fact end in a 2-2 tie.
Next up is Castro Valley at home on January 17, and away at Berkeley on January 22.
Photos by Julie Reichle