Bret Harte defenders Diana Munoz and Lauren Redding's efforts may not show up on a stat sheet, but their contribution to the Bullfrogs' 2-1 win over Summerville was obvious in the Mother Lode League openeron Wednesdayat Dunlavy Field.
The duo, along with defensive backline mates Jessica Rapetti and Hailey Smoot, shut down numerous Summerville attacks and won many 50-50 balls.
In doing so, the Bullfrogs netted two early goals and held on to open league with a victory.
"Winning our first league game is very exciting because every game counts from here on out," Redding said. "It's like a championship game and these points count. It'll be great to win league this year. That's our goal."
But that goal was almost derailed when Summerville nearly struck first.
Bear forward Mali PetersonWood blasted a shot on frame in the fifth minute, but Bullfrog goalkeeper Jessica Stohlman made a fantastic save.
"Their goalie - I have known Jessica now for four years - she's a good goalie," said Bears head coach Brad Schultz. "She saved them. I thought we had some really well-placed shots and she was able to save them."
Just moments later, Bullfrog forward Marissa Biagi pounced on a Jara Clark rebound, and blasted the game's first score in the sixth minute.
"I just knew I had to absolutely get it in," Biagi said. "Being a sophomore on varsity is a big deal. Having this be my first official varsity league game, I knew I had to score."
Biagi's goal gave the Bullfrogs a 1-0 lead, but the opportunistic striker found paydirt again just three minutes later.
Biagi received a pass down the right sideline, took a few touches, before powering a shot from distance and past the Bear goalkeeper.
"I knew I had to take a really hard shot," Biagi said. "It had to go somewhere, and over the goalie's head was probably the best place to put it. When it hit the back of the net, I was extremely excited. Having all my teammates come up and be there for me and cheer for me was a really good feeling."
Facing a two-goal deficit, Summerville went on the attack.
The Bears started controlling the game with possession and moved the ball deep into Bret Harte territory, but were undone by Munoz and Redding in one-on-ones.
Munoz, time and time again, used her speed at leftback to cut out passing lanes and denied any threat down the right flank.
"She shut down every single attack where they tried to get in on us," said Bullfrogs head coach Miguel Santos of Munoz. "She's amazing. She's an amazing soccer player."
"Diana's a great player," Schultz said. "I've seen her grow over the years. She's become a great defensive player. She's fast. She's got skills. She knows what to do with the ball. She knows how to play."
Redding, an energetic vocal leader, was able to dictate the pace with timely clearances and Summerville went into the break scoreless.
"One thing we really try to do is being first to the ball," Redding said. "I know that when we're first to the ball, the other team has like no opportunity, no chance to defeat you."
Since Summerville struggled finding open space and options down Munoz's side of the field, the Bears shifted their plan of attack from the right side to the left in the second half.
With Munoz out of the picture, the Bears' passes started to link up right away.
In the 49th minute, Summerville trimmed Bret Harte's lead to one when freshman midfielder Hope Flores claimed a Darian Skellenger cross and fired the ball into the net.
"I thought the second half we came out fantastic," Schultz said. "We came out and just finally started connecting our passes. Deep down, I knew it was going to happen, and the way we started passing, I didn't have any doubt."
Although Summerville outshot Bret Harte 10-4, the Bears could not find that equalizer the rest of the way.
Bret Harte (1-0 MLL) will host Amadoron Tuesdayat Dorroh Field and Summerville (0-1 MLL) hosts Argonauton Mondayat Dunlavy Field. Kickoff for both games is at7 p.m.
"I thought our effort was there," Schultz said. "I think it's pretty safe to say we out-possessed them. We played a lot on their half of the field instead of our half, but we have to find the back of the net. We have to get it in. We have to slip it past the goalie somehow. So, the overall effort from the team, I'm pleased. I'm pleased with what they did. I really wish we could have got out of here with the win instead of the loss, but I'm sure this team will rebound. They'll learn from some of the mistakes that they made, and we look forward to Monday's game."