Kasia Wolf is one of only two freshmen on the Santa Barbara High girls soccer team.
She’s played in almost all of the Dons’ matches, and she’s been grateful for the minutes she’s had on the field — even though some games have offered fewer minutes than others.
On Tuesday night against Dos Pueblos, it was the entire Santa Barbara team that was grateful to have Wolf.
After Kamila Picket scored in the first half to put the Chargers up, 1-0, Wolf netted her first varsity goal to equalize. In the final seconds of stoppage time in the second half, the Dons appeared doomed, as they trailed 2-1.
But Wolf came through with her second goal of the season and the match, a hard, right-footed shot from 14 yards that rippled the net under the crossbar to make for a 2-2 draw at San Marcos High’s Warkentin Stadium.
Wolf was mobbed by her teammates on the field and the Santa Barbara bench exploded when she tied the game in the final seconds.
“I crossed it and it richoched back out to me,” Wolf said. “I saw the top corner of the goal and I tried to place it there. My teammates put in a great effort on that play.
“We were down and I had the ball and I knew there was barely any time left, so I knew I had to do something with it. This is definitely one of the highlights for me in my life.”
Santa Barbara had a high press going the entire second half trying to get the equalizer.
It left the Dons vulnerable to counterattacks. While Dos Pueblos had some healthy chances going the other way on counters, a third goal was not to be, even though they came close.
“I would have liked it if we could have finished some more of those opportunities, but as the season goes on, we’ll keep focusing on finishing goals, and capitalizing when we have the chance,” DP coach Seth Asuncion said.
“It was a disappointing end, but you’ve got to see it as motivation for the girls to see that nothing is a given, especially in the last 30 seconds. You’ve got to play until the final whistle and just be aware of the time. We won’t make that same mistake twice.”
After Wolf leveled the match at 1-1 in the first half, senior forward Barbara Gonzalez scored to put Dos Pueblos back in the lead, 2-1. Asuncion was proud of the way his team fought back after allowing the tying goal in the first 40 minutes.
“What I saw was a lot of heart from our girls after Santa Barbara tied it up, 1-1,” Asuncion said. They were willing to put themselves on the line and work for each other, and when they had their (two) opportunities (in the first half), they were able to finish them.”
It was the end that left the Chargers with a bitter taste.
“Those close ones in the last minute, I think the draws are more difficult than the losses because you were so close and you were right there, but you weren’t able to grab the prize,” Asuncion added.
“They definitely had a high press in the second half, which put us under the gun, but it also opens up our forwards to start attacking and exploiting those open areas. We practice it daily, trying to finish when the opportunities are there. It’s something that you really have to keep practicing. Tonight did feel like a loss.”
It was the opposite feeling for the Dons, who picked up an important point in the Channel League while improving to 2-2-1. Dos Pueblos saw its record go to 2-1-3. Lompoc is atop the Channel League standings, but Thomson felt that Tuesday’s result kept the Dons right in the thick of the race as the teams enter the second half of the league season.
“There’s no clear front runner in the league at this point, so it’s going to be really exciting,” Thomson said. “We’re right where we want to be, right in the mix. We’re hitting our stride as we enter the second (half) of the league season.”
As for Wolf’s heroics in the final seconds, Thomson maintained it was the result of her hard work in practice.
“She’s been practicing long (shots) and that proved to be really great for tonight,” Thomson said. “You just keep battling until the final whistle. “Everything we were thinking was vertical at that point. We just wanted to get everything in the box that we could and crash the goal. That’s the way it has to be when you’re down by one and you’ve got minutes or seconds to go.”