For the longest time on Thursday night, it was the Santa Barbara High girls soccer team that was in control of its match against Lompoc at Warkentin Stadium.
The Dons were the ones getting up and down the field at will and firing shots that may not have resulted in scores but were consistently pressuring the Braves’ defense.
Then, in the 53rd minute, a shot finally found the back of the net.
But it wasn’t from a Santa Barbara athlete.
No, it was Lompoc’s senior striker Amy Bommersbach who stepped up and fired in a penalty shot to give the Braves a one-goal lead.
Santa Barbara tried to level the match multiple times, but ultimately, the contest ended the same way it did back on Jan. 14 at Lompoc High: a 1-0 Braves victory by a penalty kick.
“Well, it’s ironic because this is exactly how we lost to Lompoc at their house so to then have the same scenario here leaves a really bitter taste in our mouth,” Santa Barbara coach Bridget Thomson said.
Bommersbach took the penalty shot for Lompoc, but it was fellow senior co-captain Ayziah Simmons who made it happen.
The speedy striker collected a ball in the box off a deep pass and turned toward the goal. There, she ran into Santa Barbara’s Brianna Lopez and drew the foul for the ensuing penalty shot.
While there was some contact, the call was heavily disagreed with by the crowd and the Santa Barbara coaching staff alike.
“The PK, in my opinion, was completely wrong,” Thomson said.
In general, on Thursday, a lot of calls seemed to favor Lompoc more than Santa Barbara. The Braves drew nine fouls in the second half alone compared to the Dons two.
A big call also came about midway through the second half. Santa Barbara’s forward Sofia Capelletti received a pass and was running down the right hash with a defender draping over her.
The defender attempted to dislodge the ball but fell and Capelletti stayed upright and headed toward the goalkeeper. The referee, however, called a foul, stopping the run.
Earlier in the half, a near-identical run took place, but no foul was called on Capelletti in that instance.
“Unfortunately, you’re always going to have questionable officiating. Just like you can’t control the weather, you can’t control those things but we also didn’t capitalize on our many opportunities,” Thomson said.
Regardless, Bommersbach’s goal was a no-doubter, finding the right top corner.
“She gave her no chance at all,” Braves coach Jason Cochrane said.
“She’s really cerebral about her placement and play and she’s just as steady as they come. She’s one of our captains for a reason. She’s a senior and we’re relying on our senior captains to carry us the rest of this way.”
The Braves (10-0-6) are not that far away from a Channel League crown either.
With only two games to play, Lompoc sits atop the table with a 5-0-3 league mark with 18 points.
“The girls have worked their (tails) off and they deserve it. Santa Barbara played a very physical game in the first half and got off a lot of shots, but we made the adjustments we needed and now we have an opportunity to win the Channel League,” Cochrane said.
Dos Pueblos High, which defeated San Marcos Thursday, is in second place with a 5-1-2 Channel League record and 17 points.
The two teams will play on Monday at DP. With a win, Lompoc will win the league crown.
“It’s an amazing feeling. Last year we ended up just one point behind DP for the title and now we get to right that wrong. It’s a fantastic feeling but DP will be waiting for us Monday. It’s going to be great,” Cochrane said.
Although Santa Barbara (7-7-5, 4-3-1), who remains in third place in the Channel League, was scorned by some questionable calls, ultimately it did not convert its many chances Thursday, especially in the first 40 minutes.
In the first half, the Dons had 14 shots with seven half of them being on goal. The best look came when a service pass from Capelletti to Cate Hansen put the sophomore one on one with the keeper.
Hansen slotted the ball just under the goalie, but the shot just missed wide of the goal in the 23rd minute.
Later, Hansen was again in a position to score, but with multiple defenders around her and the keeper coming off her line. The ball was fumbled around and eventually cleared.
In the second half, before and after Bommersbach’s goal, the Dons continually had looks but just could not convert on any one shot.
“You’re always gonna have days like that. They’re just so frustrating because you’re creative, you’re doing all the right things and then you just can’t quite finish it. I said to the girls at halftime we just got to get one and then they’ll start rolling in and that just didn’t happen,” Thomson said.
With Santa Barbara playing intense pressure defense and continually making runs up the field, the team was really starting to get visibly tired in the latter parts of the game.
“My legs at the end were definitely hurting,” junior defender Lizzie Goss said.
“Having to defend and make runs up especially towards the end and pushing everyone up, is definitely a lot on the body.”
Despite the loss, one Don was very happy to enjoy every minute of action she got on the field.
Senior co-captain Mikayla Thoits, who will be having hip surgery today to repair a torn labrum, played in her final game Thursday.
“It was super exciting just seeing our team go all out there, especially for my last game. It was a lot of mixed emotions on the field but I feel like we just didn’t get it in the back of the net but we did everything that we could and I am proud of everybody,” Thoits said.
“This program has meant a lot to me, I have met some of my best friends here and its been a huge staple and its been great to be able to play what I have been able to this season.”