By George Thomas
Special to the Daily Planet
The Berkeley High School women’s soccer team cruised to an easy 3-0 victory at home against Pinole Valley Tuesday.
Midfielder Mia Arakaki nearly broke the goal drought late in the first half when she deftly chipped the Pinole Valley keeper only to see her effort clank loudly off the crossbar.
Berkeley center midfielder Esther Schmidt scored the game’s first goal in the 48th minute when she intercepted a poor back pass from Pinole Valley and slotted it into the back of the net for an easy goal. The match had been scoreless up to that point.
Schmidt’s goal opened the floodgates, and she completed her double just one minute later with a strikingly similar effort from 5 yards out.
The Berkeley rout was completed in the 69th minute when ’Jacket forward Maura Fitzgerald found herself alone with the Pinole Valley goalkeeper, who hesitated to intercept a long clearance. Fitzgerald finished nicely, and the ’Jackets had an easy home win.
Berkeley was clearly the better side in the contest; Pinole Valley looked very disorganized and wasn’t able to put together a coordinated attack.
Berkeley was able to maintain possession most of the game, but the lady ’Jackets suffered in the finish, and despite a staggering 29 shots, were only able to get three into the goal.
Berkeley struggled with staying onsides, and the lineman’s flag went up over 20 times during the course of the game.
Pinole Valley had just one shot over the match’s 80 minutes plus injury time.
Despite an impressive performance by her team, Schmidt stole the show.
Her double would have been a hat trick had her first goal not been disallowed in an offsides decision midway through the first half.
She also narrowly missed her third goal on a couple of other occasions late in the second half, including a chip of her own that sailed just wide of the post.
Had it not been for Berkeley’s lackluster finishing, Schmidt would have had a couple of assists as well.
“As a team we were working well together and connecting passes,” said Schmidt, “on the attack we had 29 shots. Unfortunately, we only got 3 in the net. I think everyone was expecting more.”
“We need to work on being more aware up front to cut down on the number of offside calls against us.
We definitely need to work on finishing because we had a lot of good chances to score but weren’t able to put the ball in the back of the net,” said left halfback Rachel Williams.
The Yellowjackets competed in the highly competitive East Bay Athletic League last season and won only two matches.
This season, as members of the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League, they are hoping to book a trip to the North Coast Section (NORCAL) playoffs.
“After playing in the EBAL, we’re used to tougher competition,” said midfielder Maya McLaughlin.
“Our plan for this season is to win the ACCAL and we will all be very disappointed if we don’t make (the) North Coast (Section Playoffs).
This is finally our year to make it to the playoffs and we want to have an undefeated season,” said Williams.