Buena Slogs Through in Extreme Game, 1-0
The Buena High girls’ soccer team now knows what it’s like to play in a swamp.
Unable to employ its normal attack offense because of muddy conditions, the Bulldogs scored on the efforts of two sophomores.
Rachele McDonald’s inbound pass threaded between two defenders and landed at the feet of Stephanie Border, whose goal in the 28th minute secured Buena’s 1-0 victory over host El Dorado in a Division II semifinal Tuesday.
Buena (27-1-2) will defend its section title Saturday against Mission Viejo at a site to be determined. The Bulldogs take a 12-game winning streak into the championship and are unbeaten in 25 consecutive games.
The Bulldogs advanced despite extreme conditions. Playing in steady rain on a saturated field, traditional dribbling and passing became nearly impossible. The game became a series of footraces for balls stuck in the mud.
“The field was like walking on land mines,” Buena senior Natalie Sanderson said. “The field was a lake. You couldn’t dribble the ball, and if you managed to kick it in the air, you had no idea if it would go two feet or 20 yards.”
Reduced to slow motion, Buena generated eight shots on goal in the first half and 13 overall.
“We shut down a lot of their shots, but they beat us to a lot of those balls,” El Dorado Coach Juan Mares said. “It became a possession game. You had to win the balls that were stuck in the mud.”
Border, a transfer from Ventura High, capitalized on McDonald’s inbound pass with a shot that caught goalie Vanessa Chanez off balance.
"[McDonald] tossed in a perfect pass,” Border said. “Even though we couldn’t play our style, we were confident we would keep pressure on them.”
El Dorado (17-9-3), making its first appearance in the semifinals, generated just five shots on goal. Buena’s athleticism was evident late in the second half as the Bulldogs made six shots in the last 20 minutes.
“If this was a dry game, I think we would have shut them down even a little more,” Mares said. “We slowed them down some, but they’re a very athletic team.”
The Golden Hawks held Sanderson scoreless. The senior who will play at Stanford has 40 goals this season.
“It was our toughest win of the season,” Sanderson said. “We had to fight for every ball, because the ball wasn’t moving. The ball would land in puddles in the grass that you couldn’t even see.”
Buena can win the program’s third girls’ soccer title and second in a row.
“It would have to be impossible to ask more of this team,” Buena Coach Trish Butterbaugh said. “We took one look at this field and knew we wouldn’t be able to play our game, and still [Buena] found a way to win.”