Girls soccer: Como Park tops Humboldt in Mayor’s Cup

The Como Park Cougars maintained their undefeated record in the sixth annual Mayor’s Cup with a 1-0 victory over the Humboldt Hawks in girls soccer on Friday at Allianz Field in St. Paul.

“We’ve always brought the cup home, and we’re seniors and it’s our last year. So that was our challenge. We had to bring the cup home for our school, for our team… it made our whole community happy,” the Cougars’ Isabella Sanchez-Esparza said on what this game meant.

Como (7-8-0, 5-2-0) had a tight grip for much of the game. The Cougars retained pressure and possession the entirety of the first half. Not much would amount from the pressure, though the scoring chances were there.

In the sixth minute, Como got its first scoring chance off a corner. After centering the ball, Nightin Day tried to put it on goal, but she missed wide right. That was just the beginning of an attack that didn’t let up.

The Cougars would go on to rack up six shots in the first half, all stopped by Hawks goaltender Easter Paw. Paw had a lot of help from her defense to help shut down the relentless attack.

The continuous stopped rushes gave the Hawks (4-10-0, 2-5-0) a small spark as they were able to flip the field for a brief stretch. Como defensemen Lucy Hebble and Mariatu Kanu were both more than ready and shut down both of the Humboldt attacks in the first half.

The second half got off to a quick start for the Cougars. In the 42nd minute, Lenia Lopez Bibiano broke the scoreless tie.

The Hawks started to get some momentum again and were inches away from a game-tying goal off a free kick that led to an open net.

After the exciting opening to the second half, both teams hit a stalemate. It was a lot of back-and-forth action as the Hawks were starting to find their groove. But neither team found the back of the net again.

This was the first time the matchup was away from either of the team’s home fields, and it was clear there was a difference. Exhaustion started to kick in on both sides as players were hunched over whenever there was a small break in action.

“We’ve never played on a field with this much width or length, and we’re not really used to grass fields,” Kanu said. “It’s just such a large field, we weren’t fully ready for it.”

It was a special game for both teams to be able to play such a big game on such a big stage.

“It’s jaw dropping that we were even able to play here at all. As seniors we’ve been waiting for a couple of years, and the fact that we got to is so amazing. It makes me feel ecstatic,” the Cougars’ Lenia Lopez Bibiano said.

The boys played in their Mayor’s Cup directly after the girls game. The Hawks lead that series 3-2 heading into the sixth match.

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