Walker scores Cate’s game-winner in thrilling rivalry game

Kate Firestone was in an interesting situation up at Cate on Saturday afternoon.

She watched as her two granddaughters played on different sides of the girls soccer rivalry — Fiona Jessup for Laguna Blanca and Georgina Walker for Cate.

“It’s very odd. All you can cheer for is good play for both teams,” said Firestone.

That was certainly the case, and appropriately enough the cousins were matched up when Walker sneaked in the game-winner in the final minutes, lifting Cate to a 3-2 victory.

“That was soooo exciting. I’m a defender so it was the first goal I’ve scored in seven years,” said Walker, so revved up after the final whistle that she could hardly catch her breath. She said she and Jessup are very close and have grown up playing together.

It was a statement win for Cate’s young squad, as the Owls won the Condor League and made it all the way to the CIF semifinals last year. Laguna returned plenty of firepower to its lineup.

“This was definitely one of the toughest Condor League games I’ve ever been a part of. Laguna’s a great team,” said Rams coach Lisa Holmes. “I think this makes the statement that we’re for real.”

Cate took a 1-0 lead into halftime after Mabel Sabina scored a goal in the opening minutes off of an assist from Brennan Cusack. Ten minutes into the second half, Laguna’s Becca Braly broke down the right side and rifled a cross in that deflected off of a Cate defender’s head for an own-goal, tying the score at 1-1.

Walker went down after a collision five minutes later, but fortunately there was no concussion. She returned in the final 10 minutes to score the winner.

Laguna took the lead when captain Erin Stone beat a defender on the right flank and buried a shot about 23 minutes into the second half. Stone had two great shots in the following minutes but missed close shots.

Weis followed with some great runs of her own as both sides were getting numerous good looks and pushing the ball forward aggressively. Laguna goalie Arabella Watters made a leaping save of a free kick to preserve Laguna’s lead with 15 minutes to go, but Cate got the equalizer when the ball was pinballed around near the post before being squirted out to Marguerite Mannix for an easy tap-in.

The game was back-and-forth in the final minutes, and the Rams got two corner kicks towards the end. Weis sent the second over the crowd to the far post, and Walker was there to put it away.

Mrs. Firestone must’ve been torn, as one granddaughter was absolutely ecstatic while the other was very disappointed (despite playing a solid match).

“I really thought we had it there,” said Stone, an all-CIF first-teamer from last season. “We just got unlucky in the back. Both teams played great and it was a fun match to be a part of, but next time they better watch out because we’re gonna beat them.”