St. Mary’s scored three goals in the first half, then held on during an uninspired second half to beat St. Joseph, 3-1, on Wednesday in Berkeley.
Senior forward Chelsea Sera scored the first two goals for the Panthers, both from Margot Davis crosses, which were enough to beat the Pilots, who played the game with no substitutes and were visibly tired by the end.
Kimberley McConnell added the third St. Mary’s goal in the 31st minute with a precise chip from the left corner of the goal box to the far post.
The Panthers (5-4 overall, 3-3 BSAL) had a few chances to score early in the second half, as McConnell and Sera each had breakaway shots, but both were right at the St. Joseph goalkeeper. The Pilots never really looked dangerous enough to score St. Mary’s, but they did manage to pull back a goal with 10 minutes left in the game.
“I’d have liked to have gotten a couple more goals in the second half, just to finish them off,” St. Mary’s head coach Donny McGuire said. “But we try not to pile on the goals, and (St. Joseph) played well in the second half.”
St. Mary’s goalkeeper Ashley Frazier didn’t have much to do against the Pilots, who got just three shots on goal.
As the regular season winds down, McGuire finds himself looking ahead to the BSAL playoffs, which start on Feb. 5. He considers his young team a threat to pull an upset from their likely four- or five-seed spot, and thinks they even have a chance to win the whole thing.
“We could be the surprise team of the playoffs,” he said. “The cool thing is that it’s like a whole new season. It gives us a chance to get into the (North Coast Section playoffs).”
To do that, the Panthers will have to beat at least one, and probably two, of the teams they have lost to in league play: Piedmont, Salesian and Berean Christian. But with a team that has just two senior starters, McGuire isn’t out of line to expect the Panthers to keep improving with every game.