After a winless league season up in the De Anza division a year ago, the Fremont Firebirds soccer team is enjoying a much stronger season in the El Camino league this year. The Firebirds improved to 5-2-1 on the season with a 4-0 shutout of Cupertino on Monday night. Leading the way with two goals — the first and third of the game — was senior forward Emma Noe. Freshman Misaki Kaneko and sophomore Flor Chavez would also find the back of the net in the impressive victory.
“We knew we were the better team, we worked hard and had chances in the first half, just didn’t have that composed finish at the end,” remarked Fremont Head Coach Payam Hajjarian on the missed opportunities in the first half. “But we knew if we just stuck with it and didn’t panic, that the goals would come.”
Indeed the goals would come, all four of them in the second half. Noe’s goal that opened the scoring was yet another through ball that gave the Firebirds a one-on-one opportunity with the Cupertino keeper. In the first half, Pioneers goalkeeper Lyric Rosa-O’Hayer did an impressive job coming well out of the 18-yard box to clear away near chances. A couple of her saves were also right at the top of the 18. On Noe’s goal, the senior was able to avoid Rosa-O’Hayer by cutting the ball wide to the left and track it down before sliding it into a gaping net from a tough angle.
“I was actually terrified, I was like, ‘oh no,’” joked Noe on catching up to her second-to-last touch. “I went left, but I originally wanted to go right. Earlier in the game, one of my teammates went right twice and it didn’t work out because the goalie went that way. But when I hit it that far wide to the left, I didn’t know if I had the angle or not.”
Earlier in the game, it had been the combination of freshman Kaya Mitchem and senior Andee Quintana teaming up for multiple chances. Quintana eventually assisted on Noe’s first goal and Mitchem was all over the field playing both in an attacking role and as a center back on defense.
“We beat them the first time we played them, so we were pretty confident coming in,” said Mitchem. “[Noe] composed herself really well on that first goal with the ball rolling out. She kept it calm and just passed it into the goal with her left foot. It was really nice.”
In addition to the four goals, some unsung plays came from a number of Firebirds. Junior Bridget Waelty set up Quintana with a perfectly placed through ball, while sophomore Sanjana Checker lived up to her last name by stealing the ball away in a one-on-one situation in midfield. Not to mention the play of center back Kiana Del Rosario, who helped thwart the Pioneers from getting really anything in the way of quality chances. Firebirds keeper Guppy Uppal only had to make one tough save when she jumped up to catch a high floating shot from distance in the first half.
The Firebirds will look to improve to 6-2-1 this Friday, Feb. 7 when they take on first-place Gunn. The Titans are currently undefeated at 7-0. Fremont previously lost to the Titans 3-1 back on Jan. 17.