GSoc: Dons come from behind to catch Royals

Santa Barbara High sophomore Alea Hyatt scored the game-winner on a penalty kick.

Santa Barbara High sophomore Alea Hyatt scored the game-winner on a penalty kick.


Julie Pitney and Alea Hyatt scored second-half goals for Santa Barbara High on Saturday night to lift the Dons to a 2-1 comeback victory over San Marcos.

San Marcos scored first on a free-kick goal by Kaitlyn Saperstein [VIDEO] but then allowed Santa Barbara to rally with Pitney’s goal in the 58th minute followed by a penalty kick from Hyatt [VIDEO] in the 74th minute.

The Dons avenged a 1-0 loss to the Royals in their first meeting of the season and picked up their first Channel League victory in the process.

“This was really important to them,” said Dons head coach Jill Wolf. “They needed the win where we are right now, and a little payback after the last game. A big night for them.”

Dons captain Erin Graf said the win felt great not just for beating their rivals.

“Especially because we haven’t been winning a lot of our games,” Graf said. “Starting last week, we got a tie and that’s kind of the momentum that got us to winning this game.

The winning goal came on a penalty kick finished off by Hyatt. San Marcos was whistled for an inadvertent hand ball in the penalty area while trying to clear a corner kick. Hyatt has a team-leading seven goals on the season.

Graf said she felt the team was finding its rhythm again after dealing with a handful of injuries.

“I think our passing was a lot better than last time, like switching the field and running more into open space,” Graf said.

Running into open space is how Pitney scored her goal. The junior, who spends a majority of her time manning a defensive back position, moved up to forward in the second half and was able to run onto a pass behind the defense. One on one with San Marcos goalie Emily Stevens, Pitney put Santa Barbara on the board with a finesse lob shot over a charging Stevens.

“She’s really quick. She’s aggressive, tenacious, and she did a great job finishing that under pressure,” Wolf said of Pitney.

“It’s really exciting (playing forward) but half the time I don’t really know where I’m running,” Pitney said.

San Marcos falls to 1-2-0 in the league standings

“I don’t think we did anything wrong but I do think they wanted it more,” said San Marcos head coach Macie Berlin. “That’s going to win games.”

The Dons not only needed a victory but were inspired by a message from Coach Wolf, who asked the team to think about Santa Barbara High student Gracie Fisher recently paralyzed from acute flaccid myelitis.

“Be thankful that you can be out here and take advantage of it just because you can. Work every minute. It’s a gift for them to be out here and to be able to play,” Wolf said she told them before the game.

Saperstein’s goal came on a free kick just over 20 yards out. The senior took a shot that deflected off the player wall and redirected into the goal. It came less than four minutes after halftime and temporarily energized the Royals.

The Dons came close to taking a lead late in the first half. The final 10 minutes produced a number of opportunities thanks to the hard work and skill from Erin Graf and Alea Hyatt.

On one occasion, Graf dribbled into the middle, changed direction to free herself of her defender, and slotted a forward pass to a cutting Hyatt. The Dons sophomore passed back to SB 6 for a point blank shot that SM Goalie saved.

Two minutes later the same combination created another shot on goal that Stevens saved. With a minute before halftime, Hyatt drew a foul just outside the box on a hard take down that brought out a yellow card. Hyatt took the free kick and put a hard curling shot on frame but Stevens was there again to poke it away.

The Royals nearly stole a goal in the final seconds when Santa barbara defender Natalie Cvitanic cleared a shot by Danielle Anderson that bounced only a foot wide.

Both teams host their next league contests. Santa Barbara moves on to face Buena on Tuesday while San Marcos welcomes Ventura to Warkentin Stadium.