Oakland Soul got back in the win column on Wednesday out in Turlock, defeating Academica SC by way of a big 5-nil clean sheet. The victory improves Oakland to 6-0-2 with four matches left in the regular season and snaps the two-game skid after falling to Cal Storm and SF Glens.
As things stand, Oakland now holds the tiebreaker for a potential Wild Card bid over the Northwest Division’s United PDX. Through eight matches, Soul is currently generating 2.25 points per game while PDX is at 2.17 through its six appearances.
Thursday’s match marked the third different lineup for Soul since its last win over Cal Storm on June 4–notably not including forwards Miranda Nild and Sam Tran. Making their Soul debut was left back Elianna Wong, goal keeper Melani Morales, and midfielder Vickie Jones in the second half. Isabella Flocchini also made her third straight appearance in the 10-role.
Despite the new lineup, Soul was able to successfully build into both halves–scoring two goals in a three-minute span in the first half and all three second-half goals during an eight minute stretch at the end of the game.
It took a bit for Oakland to build into the match with its new lineup, scoring its first goal in the 37th minute. In the buildup, Jaida Nyby received possession around midfield and turned it upfield, kicking a pass out to Jordan Geis on the left side–who dribbled down toward the end-line before sending a cross to Flocchini, who got redirected the ball to the bottom of the cross bar but across the line her first goal in a Soul uniform.
Soul wasted no time getting its second in the 40th. It started with a give-and-go between Kaytlin Brinkman and Ceci Gee, where Brinkman broke through the back line and saw the keeper making a late run out to stop her. Brink took a touch around the keeper before sending a cross back toward Geis, whose left footed shot went across the line before a defender’s attempted clearance hit off of the left post.
In the second half, Eden Olson nearly scored in the 51st when an attempt to clean up a drop by Academica’s keeper sailed over the net. Olson had another near-chance in the 70th when pouncing on a poorly handled ball by the center back.
Soul continued pressing the action and getting possession in the remaining time. Their goal in the 81st when Tatiana Cunningham kept possession for Soul, pushing a ball out wide to Geis–who dribbled straight toward her defender into the penalty area before taking a touch onto her right foot, following through for her second goal.
Oakland’s fourth goal was on some individual brilliance between Olson and Nayeli Diaz. Eden took a terrific touch around a defender after receiving a pass from Sarah Mirr. Olson then retained possession between two defenders before sending a pass to Diaz, who sidestepped a defender to leave her in the dust and shrugged off a sloppy tackle before sending in a right-footed shot. It was a brilliant effort.
Olson finally broke through for Soul’s fifth goal. This time, a low ball went straight through the area to Sydney Shepherd, who footed it on by to Olson at the right post. Her shot was too strong for the keeper, deflecting into net.
Soul is now set to return to Merritt College on Sunday against Pleasanton Rage, which enters with a 1-1-5 overall record. They will also travel to play Olympic Club at USF’s Negoesco Stadium on June 21, marking an opportunity to improve on May 13’s 1-nil victory over the San Francisco private club.
- Jordan Geis’ impact; our RootsBlog Player of the Match
Jordan Geis’ impact on the match was clear to see, she entered in the 25th minute and was the catalyst to turning the game around. Lining up on the left side, Geis was able to stretch the defense to free up space for her teammates. Even prior to her assist to Flocchini for the opening goal, she helped draw a corner in the 30th. Then she was in perfect position to poach a second goal on a sloppy defense.
Although Geis has had limited starts, she’s been one of the most heavily used players so far this season. She’s a player technical director Jordan Ferrell had a lot of praise of during a brief conversation back on May 13 during the match against Olympic Club.
The Archbishop Mitty senior is currently committed to play at UCLA, where she will join GK Layla Armas when they graduate from high school in 2024.
- Eden Olson also deserves a shout.
Eden Olson was all over the ball on Wednesday and she likely deserved more than one goal. As a second-half substitute, Olson nearly scored in the 51st and 70th minutes, was a key part of the third goal, and finally broke through in the 89th.
She’s also been a player getting heavy minutes so far this season. Olson concluded her college career at Utah as a graduate student from 2016-2021, appearing in 93 games with 76 starts for the Utes, scoring seven goals and five assists.
- Third lineup in as many matches took time to build, but it was just a matter of time.
As mentioned above, Wednesday’s match marked Oakland Soul’s third different lineup since its 3-2 win over California Storm on June 4. With that, it took some time for the team to build into both halves, but it only seemed like a matter of time before the goals leaked in. Players like GK Melani Morales, FB Elianna Wong, and CM Vickie Jones were making their debut, so it was good to see fluidity from the new group.
With teams like Pleasanton, Olympic Club, and Marin Siren (June 25), it’s fair to expect there to be more squad rotation. It’ll be interesting to see the squad rotation against weaker programs before hosting SF Glens for the season-finale on July 2.
- What are the chances Soul gets upset out of a playoff spot?
Things would have to go horribly wrong for Soul to get held out of a playoff spot, but I’m here to wildly speculate for you, so lets take a quick look into it.
Right now, the Nor Cal Division’s potential third-playoff allocation is in direct competition with the second-seed from the Northwest Division–currently United PDX with a 4-1-1 record and but currently only have four matches left in its season. They’ve faced first-place Oly Town FC twice already and play them on more time this week on June 18, making a match with serious playoff implications.
Let’s say Soul get the job done in its next three matches over Pleasanton, Olympic Club, and Marin Siren, but fall to SF Glens on July 2 to make their record 9-0-3 to close the regular season. This would give Oakland a points per game average of 2.25–exactly what they have now.
California Storm has five matches left and will also likely finish with a 9-0-3 record. In this case, the tiebreaker for the Nor Cal Division will come down to Goal Differential, which Storm have a comfortable +16 lead to Oakland’s +11.
For United PDX, winning their remaining four matches would clinch them a spot with 2.5 PPM, while Oly Town would also likely qualify with the same record. If Oly Town wins, United PDX will likely go 7-1-2 and have 2.10 PPM, meaning they are out. If United PDX and Oly Town tie, that means they’ll likely be 7-2-1 and 22 points, meaning a 2.20 PPM average which wouldn’t be enough.