San Mateo stays hot by blanking Aragon 

Call it the luck of the Irish or the result of a coach getting his team to focus on each game at hand. Whatever the reason, the San Mateo High School girls’ soccer team is on a roll through the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division.

The Bearcats, last year’s PAL Ocean Division champs, used a generous carom off an upright and defeated Aragon 1-0 at San Mateo High on Thursday.

Katelyn Turtletaub’s shot on goal in the 72nd minute got past Dons’ goalie Ashley Lentz, but struck the far upright and shot back out onto the pitch and right to teammate Dayna Sakata. Sakata easily powered the rebound into the back of the net for the game-winning goal.

“We come into each game getting the girls mentally prepared for each game,” said San Mateo coach Daire O’Connor, a native of Ireland. “It’s definitely the key to our success this year.”

It has helped the Bearcats (5-2 overall, 3-1 PAL Bay) keep pace with defending Bay champion Woodside, despite a 2-0 loss to the Wildcats last week, and helped them upend a preseason favorite in Aragon (4-2-4, 0-2-2) as they continue their improbable run through the higher division.

“It’s hard to move up to the higher level of competition,” O’Connor said.

Aragon is one of them, and the Dons appeared to have taken control of the match after a scoreless opening half that saw very few threats against either netminder. Each team had one good chance in the first 40 minutes, with the Bearcats getting the first shot in the seventh minute.

But Lentz turned away a rebound shot after the initial shot failed to make it through a scrum of players from both teams gathered in front of the net. Aragon’s chance to score came in the 39th minute as senior captain Kat McAuliffe fired a shot on line, but it sailed too high.   

The second half opened with a quick shot by San Mateo’s Jennifer Ticzon that Lentz turned away and the Dons started to take over the game from that point, forcing most of the action in the Bearcats’ half.

McAuliffe made a quick move to shed a defender in the corner and fired a point-blank shot on net that goalie Karyn Jacobs somehow managed to keep out of the net along with help from two defenders. It would be a recurring theme for the half as the Dons failed to capitalize on their chances.

After Sakata’s goal broke the ice, the Dons turned up the intensity and spent the next 10 minutes — there were two minutes of extra time added — attacking the Bearcats’ defense. But Aragon could not break through to tie the game before time expired.

“We were knocking on their goal the entire game,” Aragon coach Will Colglazer said. “We just couldn’t break through.”

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