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The Saratoga Falcon

Freshman starter proves to be key player for girls’ soccer team’s playoff hunt

Freshman+Sahaana+Potti+dribbles+the+ball+down+the+line+against+Gunn+in+a+3-2+victory+on+Jan.+27.
courtesy of Chris Ruemmler
Freshman Sahaana Potti dribbles the ball down the line against Gunn in a 3-2 victory on Jan. 27.

Over the course of the girls’ soccer season, the ability to be tactically flexible and quickly adjust from a 4-3-3 to a 5-3-2 formation on the field has greatly benefited the team: Shifting to a 5-3-2 when the opposition is stronger has provided greater discipline to the defensive line and has given better coverage to senior goalkeeper Angelina Hong. 

Playing in a 5-3-2 formation, however, means the Falcons lack a third offensive player and makes it more difficult to advance toward goal with multiple players. Some of this disadvantage has been neutralized by the emergence of powerful freshman striker Sahaana Potti; her offensive game has allowed coach Ben Maxwell’s 5-3-2 formation to be effective. 

Potti has been a crucial part of the offense, working extremely well with freshman striker Keatyn Spendlove up top and scoring 12 out of the team’s 27 goals this season. Her attitude and desire to play her best and hold her teammates to the same standard boosted her team’s success after moving up to the De Anza league. 

Despite the fierce competition the Falcons face in the higher league, Potti believes that if the team performs their best, they have a strong chance of advancing to CCS under Maxwell’s guidance. Last year, the team went undefeated in the El Camino league and advanced to the CCS semifinals, ultimately losing 5-2 in an away game to Santa Cruz. 

As of Feb. 10, the Falcons are placed fourth in the league and must finish in the top four to guarantee a spot in the playoffs. With a 1-1 tie home to Homestead on Feb. 3 and a 3-1 win away to Palo Alto on Feb. 8, the team needs another win on their senior night against Santa Clara on Feb. 15 to make CCS quarterfinals on Feb. 18.

However, with injuries to the starting line-up and limited recovery time between games, Potti asserts that the team’s collective mentality has been ever-more important to the outcomes of their games and chances of making CCS.

“I think our mentality [during some of our games] has been a setback towards advancing in league because of the losses that we’ve had against teams that we shouldn’t have lost against like [the first time we played] Homestead,” Potti said.

Transitioning from playing at a national level, high school soccer has challenged Potti’s physicality and given her the opportunity to showcase her leadership skills in the offense.

Along with making strong bonds with upperclassmen, Potti notes that in club soccer, she has to compete not only with other teams, but also her teammates for recruitment and starting spots. She has found the competition in high school to be easier than in club because the rivalry is focused between teams rather than between intra-team competition between players.

Compared to the first game during preseason against Westmont on Dec. 3 and now, Potti has noticed that the team chemistry has really grown over the course of the season. 

“During the first game, there weren’t many passes and more people trying to show individual skill rather than playing as a team,” Potti said. “But, in the second game [away] against Mountain View [on Feb. 1], even though we lost [5-1], you can see how much we’ve improved as a team [in regards] to passing and ability to build up through the back.”

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