The Santa Clara Bruins’ soccer team celebrated their senior night on Valentine’s Day. It was a fitting coincidence for a pregame celebration filled with flowers and tears of joy. Unfortunately, the 0-0 tie against Homestead saw said joy at least temporarily removed. The Bruins needed victories in both of their final two games in order to qualify for the CCS playoffs. Thus, the Bruins’ CCS Championship defense officially came to a disappointing end. Nonetheless, seniors Maddie Ambelang, Ysela Baluyot, Samantha Galina, Frida Ramirez and Zulley Lopez were in good spirits, very much appreciative of their time playing for Santa Clara.
“I think it was a good way to go out, even though we didn’t get the win, I thought we all played hard,” noted Ambelang. “Definitely been a season of highs and lows, but I’m glad to have done it with all these girls and would not trade it for anything.”
The game itself saw Santa Clara’s best opportunities created by freshman Alisa Bontrager and sophomore Mariah Mendonca. Perhaps a bit of a passing of the torch in a game celebrating the graduating seniors, the younger players shining brightest.
“Mariah did really well,” chimed Lopez. “She gave it her all, was there in the spots she needed to be. She played a big role for us tonight.”
“She played really well in her minutes tonight,” added Ambelang. “That one chance she had should have earned us a PK.”
Both Mendonca and Bontrager flashed impressive speed in their attacking roles. Bontrager’s left footed shot from 17-yards away was the best shot on frame for either team. The Homestead keeper had to come up with a nice diving save to keep the score tied.
The Bruins would finish up their season two days later, losing 2-0 to the Wildcats in Los Gatos. It was a end to the season for the Bruins as they struggled to convert chances. Santa Clara scored just two goals over their final six games, both coming in a 2-2 tie against Los Altos.
This season will be the first time in five years the Bruins won’t qualify for CCS, but with the aforementioned Bontrager and Mendonca, as well as freshman starters Jordan Lesnick, and Analicia Bonelli, the Bruins have a nucleus of young players ready to form the new wave of Bruins soccer.
Head Coach Brad Comstock might not have to wait very long at all to see his squad back in the mix for CCS. That said, he will be in need of a new team mom without Ambelang.
“Last night a lot of the girls called Maddie the team mom,” remarked coach Comstock. “She is the glue for these girls and to me, because we talk a lot, with her being the go-to captain on this team. Friday night is her last soccer game ever, and that’s a sad realization.”