Three games into the season, the Berkeley High girls’ soccer team scored its first goal of the year on Friday against Livermore, then proceeded to score three more on its way to a 4-1 victory.
The suddenly ferocious Berkeley attack got goals from four different players against the Cowboys after going scoreless against both Arroyo and Amador Valley, both losses. Although the ’Jackets only had a slight advantage in shots on Friday, they created much better scoring opportunities than Livermore, which took most of its shots from outside the penalty box.
Berkeley (1-2) had the advantage early thanks to some deft passing by forwards Annie Borton and Maura Fitzgerald and midfielder Veronica Searles. With the rangy forwards causing havoc up front with diagonal runs, Searles was often open in the middle for shots. She just missed on a cross from Fitzgerald in the opening minutes as Berkeley kept possession for much of the start. The three hooked up again a minute later, using a one-touch triangle to get Fitzgerald open, but her final touch was a bit too strong and Livermore goalkeeper Marisa Dayton smothered it.
Searles finally broke the scoring drought when Borton forced a bad pass by a Livermore defender, putting her one-on-one with Dayton. Searles took two dribbles, then slid the ball into the left corner of the goal for a 1-0 Berkeley lead.
Livermore (2-1) fought back, keeping the ball in the Berkeley half of the field for the next few minutes, but was unable to create a good scoring chance as ’Jacket sweeper Mei-Lin Ha repeatedly cleared balls out of the back.
Fitzgerald got another assist late in the half, making a long run down the left side before finding Borton open in the middle. Borton lofted a shot over Dayton, who had come off of her line, and into the net for the second Berkeley goal.
It didn’t take long for the ’Jackets to strike again. A moment after the ensuing kickoff, midfielder Rocio Guerrero crossed the ball from the right side, and Borton re-directed it to freshman midfielder Dea Wallach, who dribbled past Dayton and scored on the open net for her first career goal.
“It was encouraging that we got support from the midfield into our attack today,” Berkeley coach Suzanne Sillett said. “We’ve been working on that in practice.”
Livermore had a chance to get one back just before halftime, as Casie Towers got open inside the box, but her shot was right at Berkeley goalie Sara Corrigan-Gibbs, and Berkeley held on to the 3-0 lead into halftime.
The ’Jackets came out firing in the second half, as Fitzgerald just missed a cross from Zoe Murphy. Fitzgerald then stole the ball from a Livermore defender, but put her shot right at Dayton, who batted it away. The rebound fell to Searles, but she put her shot over the crossbar.
The Cowboys finally got their offense going later in the half, putting an extra attacker up front. Before Berkeley reacted to the extra forward, Dayton hit a long ball to the front that nearly resulted in a breakaway. Livermore earned a corner kick from the play, and Towers’ corner deflected to Michelle Allen. Taking the ball with her back to the goal, Allen hit an almost-bicycle kick that eluded Corrigan-Gibbs for a goal that cut the Berkeley lead to 3-1.
Fitzgerald nearly created a goal for her team from a corner kick shortly afterward. Her first cross rebounded right back to her, and her second service was right to Guerrero’s head. But Dayton got a hand on the ball to slow it down, and a Cowboy cleared the ball off of the goal line.
But Guerrero returned the favor seconds later, hitting a precise cross to Fitzgerald’s head, and this time there were no heroics for Livermore as the shot dented the net for the final goal of the game.
Livermore nearly clawed one back, as Allen hit a free kick just over the bar, and Laura King blew a breakaway chance as Corrigan-Gibbs came off her line to palm the ball aside.
The win should be a boost for the young Berkeley team, which returns just three starters from last year’s team. Sillett said she intentionally set up a tough pre-league schedule, which consists of solely of high-level competition.
“I’d rather play tough teams and lose than play easy games and win,” she said. “Besides, the pre-season schedule is everything when it comes to making the (North Coast Section) playoffs.”