Kalama coach John Bates crouched down, looking away from the field. He rose up, turned towards the pitch and cheered as the relief set in.
Melanie Martinez scored on a penalty kick in the 17th minute, which gave Kalama girls' soccer the 1-0 home win Wednesday in the Central 2B League match against Ocosta.
The game had potential for a lopsided result with 12 Kalama shots on goal and a massive possession differential, but several shots were stopped just before the net.
“These girls are knocking it about a little bit,” Bates said. “It’s just our finishing we need to work on, and that’s partly me to blame, taking it for granted that they know how to finish and they know how to shoot.”
Kalama controlled the ball for around 35 minutes in the first half, and on only three occasions did Ocosta take it across midfield to put the Chinooks on the defensive.
Kalama’s focus, Bates said, has been less about pushing the ball downfield quickly and more on smart passing. It’s working for the young roster.
“This is a young team, and I think we put the pressure on,” Bates said. “We had so many chances.”
With 12 shots on goal, the score could have been wildly different. It was a point of frustration for Kalama, especially since Martinez was able to attempt so many quality shots.
Martinez also out-hustled Ocosta and dominated with technique as she worked one-on-one close to the posts, but the Wildcats’ keeper, Kristi Raffelson did almost everything right.
“She’s pretty good. She doesn’t let anything deflect off her; she covers the ball up,” Bates said. “We just have to figure her out, get this finishing down.”
The Chinooks are now looking at the final three games of the regular with Ocosta being a probable opponent in the second round of districts. The goal, as always, is to get back to state.
What the team needs to do in order to fulfill that is a little different than it was the last time Kalama advanced as far.
“If we can get our passing a little bit sharper and get out finishing down, I think we’ll be OK,” Bates said. “I don’t want to curse myself, obviously, but they’re doing great.”