Girls Varsity soccer looks to secure playoff berth after draw with Branson


Elliot Smith

Senior Beth Brisson clears the ball during the first half of Saturday’s game.

Archie Williams girls varsity soccer tied Branson 0-0 on Saturday, Jan. 21, to keep their MCAL playoff hopes alive. The Falcons (8-2-8), playing on their home field, currently hold fourth place in the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL), meanwhile Branson (12-0-4) is undefeated this season and in first place. 

Branson came out maintaining control of the ball for most of the first half. As the half wound down, the Falcons looked to sophomore center back Ava DeCuman to clear the ball up field to the Falcons’ offense. Junior forward Maddy Mergenthaler took the sole shot for the Falcons in the first half. Branson, with five attempted shots on goal, could not convert in key moments. 

After a close first half, the Bulls and the Falcons flew into halftime with a score of 0-0. For the Falcons to have more offensive possessions, they needed to create more space on the field. Coach Jeff Mahaney reminded the team that if they want to create more options offensively, they need to move as a team. 

“We just reminded everybody that it’s not just the player with the ball and the player next to them that needs to move. We need the whole team to move. So as soon as our whole team started to move off the ball, not the person who had it, but the other players, we started to have more options,” said Falcons head coach Mahaney.

The Falcons soared into the second half with a steal from sophomore striker Phoebe Morf. She passed the ball ahead to Maddy, who fired another shot on goal. The Falcons’ defense held Branson to only 2 shots in the second half. 

Falcons defenders react as a Branson sends a pass upfield. (Elliot Smith)

The bout between two of the top MCAL teams ended in a draw, with the final score settling at 0-0. The last time these teams played, the Falcons fell short, losing 1-0. By holding the Bulls scoreless, the Falcons keep their playoff hopes alive. 

“If we couldn’t beat them, we could not walk away losing 1-0 again. And every corner kick, every free kick, [the Falcons] stepped up. They made the big plays when it mattered,” Mahaney said.

Sophomore goalie Belen Hitchcock had seven total saves which concluded her 11-shutout game of the season. Belen credits much of her success as a goalie to her ability to stay calm and have the same mindset going into each game. 

“My goalie coach helped me form a mindset where [the pressure] is the same as every game. The pressure is not more intense. There’s nothing to be more stressed about,” Belen said. 

During the offseason, the Falcons considered pursuing another goalie, but Mahaney was impressed with the way Hitchcock had stepped up and worked hard to earn the goalie position. 

“Her attitude is always so positive, and all the girls on our team really care and love her. So her performance every day, every game in my mind is just inspirational. The moment is never too big for her,” Mahaney said.

The Falcons look to continue to push for the MCAL playoffs in their next game against another top team, the Redwood Giants, on Monday, Jan. 23.