A quality Wildcat strike from 20-yards out had Santa Clara goalkeeper Samantha Coelho beat clean just seconds before the final whistle. Fortunately for Bruins fans, the shot failed to beat the near post as it clanked high off the post before being cleared away. Roughly five seconds later, the referee blew the final whistle on a 0-0 game. It was the second straight tie in successive games for the Bruins soccer squad against the Los Gatos Wildcats. On Saturday, the same two teams drew to a 1-1 finish on Santa Clara’s home pitch. The Bruins overall record is now 7-1-5 (3-0-3 in league) with their only loss being a 2-1 final where they arguably deserved a better fate. Team defense and goaltending has led the way for the Bruins, as they have conceded just two goals over their past seven games.
“My keeper [Coelho] is awesome. She is having the best year she’s had in her three years for me on varsity,” commented Bruins Head Coach Brad Comstock. “She’s a leader, she’s stepped up huge for us, made some huge saves.”
Coelho wasn’t overly busy in Tuesday’s rematch with the Wildcats, but she did time a number of plays perfectly coming out and cutting off the opportunity before Wildcat forwards could even get a shot away. Her defense in front of her was strong as usual. Center back Haley Levene returned from a concussion and was her usual dominant self defensively, but it was fellow defender Megan Sequeira who particularly stood out. In the first half Sequeira denied a breakaway opportunity hustling back to break up the play after it looked like she was beat. Not to mention throughout the game she was always in the right spot intercepting crosses into the middle and clearing balls out of harm’s way.
“Megan has come up huge this year,” agreed coach Comstock. “I challenged her at the beginning of the year and she has stepped up, played huge for us.”
While the defense and goalkeeper have led the way this season for the Bruins, the offense has been carried by senior forward Ellie Mujushi. The majority of Santa Clara’s chances at goal this season have come through Mujushi. The most notable of the chances on Tuesday came in the middle of the first half when a heads up throw-in from fellow senior Gabriella Medina sprung Mujushi down the right sideline. By the time she was able to get a shot off Mujushi’s angle wasn’t the greatest, but she still forced the goalie to make a diving save on a shot towards the far post that ended up as a corner kick.
“Gaby is able to see when we need to play fast with the ball,” responded Mujushi on Medina’s instincts. “She’s able to see my runs down the line and usually able to connect to me.”
Mujushi is set to sign her intent to play next season at Notre Dame de Namur University. She talked about her experience being scouted.
“I got scouted at a San Diego tournament to go to NDNU and I think it’s such a great opportunity,” chimed the senior striker. “I’ve already been up there and toured a couple times. I’m just really excited to continue my soccer career at a really good school. I’ll be majoring in biology and trying to do a minor in computer science.”
“She signs tomorrow, very proud of her,” added coach Comstock on Mujushi. “Her parents call her my ‘little protege’ because she’s been with me [through] club and high school for four years. When she came here she was just a tall lanky girl. She had talent and I saw it. My daughter, who used to coach here said ‘Dad, what do you see in her? I don’t see it’ and now she goes ‘yeah Dad, you were right.’”
It wasn’t the easiest of games for Mujushi and company to keep their cool. The officiating was extremely inconsistent. Senior midfielder Katie Bonvicino was fouled twice in the second half and both times the calls actually went against her. While one of the fouls was in the penalty area and probably didn’t deserve a penalty kick call in Santa Clara’s favor, the other was in midfield and was clearly a foul against Los Gatos.
“Yeah the ref was calling a lot of things,” recalled junior midfielder Maddie Ambelang. “It seemed every time I touched a girl it was a foul. He was going both ways on a lot of things, but it seemed to be a bit to our disadvantage, so yeah it was kind of hard.”
The Bruins have six games left over the next couple of weeks before the start of CCS playoffs. Ambelang was quick to credit her senior teammates as their high school careers come to a close.
“It’s gonna be really hard, especially because I’ve been playing with them since I was a freshman so seeing them all leave is going to be super hard. Ellie, Gaby, Katie, I’ve played with them for three years, it’s going to be tough to lose them, they’re all such hard workers.”