Before the National Cathedral girls’ soccer team could truly enjoy its homecoming weekend, the Eagles had to endure a brutal three-game slate that featured top-ranked Good Counsel. By Saturday’s contest against a talented Holy Cross squad, the toll of the tough week began to surface, particularly in Eagles forward Rubii Tamen, who was hindered by a sprained ankle.
With the adrenaline of the homecoming crowd fueling her and the motivation drawn from several prior near-goals, Tamen shook off the pain, chased down a long pass and headed in a goal midway through the second half to secure National Cathedral’s 1-1 tie against Holy Cross in Northwest Washington.
“I felt it, but I kept pushing because we couldn’t lose on homecoming,” Tamen said.
Holy Cross (4-0-1) showed no mercy for the Eagles’ pain or festivities and struck first with a goal in the opening four minutes. Following a scramble for the ball on the right side, Marisa Madaras kicked a dribbler into the right side of the net to put the Tartans up 1-0.
“Getting the first goal was big because we got confidence off of it,” Holy Cross Coach Tony Pykosh said. “But as the first half went on, [National Cathedral] began to put more pressure and it felt like we were just hanging on.”
The Eagles (5-1-2) continued their offensive surge through the second half, but Holy Cross goalie Jackie Branthover put together an impressive performance in net. Twice, the junior dove to save shots before thwarting a one-on-one opportunity with aggressive defense that pushed the opponent wide and out of striking distance.
“I actually enjoy pressure, so being in a tough game like today is something I love,” said Branthover, who had nine saves. “We knew they were going to come back strong in the second half, so we had to stay ready and treat this like it was a WCAC game.”
The one time that the Eagles did get past Branthover came in the 60th minute, when Monica Spafford lofted a pinpoint pass behind the Tartan defense, allowing Tamen to swoop in for the equalizer.
Both teams left the field encouraged Saturday, as the Tartans remained unbeaten and the Eagles bounced back from Thursday’s loss to Good Counsel with a strong effort to build on during the four days before their next contest.
“Any time we play a physical WCAC team, we get thrown off our game a bit at first, but I felt like our team really dominated play and fought hard,” Eagles Coach Danielle Malagari said. “We need to get better at finishing our opportunities, but fortunately, we’ve got some time now to rest and regroup.”