On Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, Berkeley High School boys soccer faced off against Bishop O’Dowd High School. This was a vital game for the team, as they had already lost to O’Dowd earlier in the season. The team needed the win to continue to have a chance to win the regular league season before playoffs.
It was a high-intensity game right off the bat, and Berkeley kept good control of the ball. O’Dowd had a few shot opportunities in the first half, but the defensive line and senior goalkeeper Toby Jacobson-Bell managed to block all of the shots.
This game also had a large turnout of fans who came to watch the game, with O’Dowd being Berkeley’s athletic rival. “The fans may have been a lot more rowdy and intense, and when there’s a lot of fans, there’s a good atmosphere,” Jacobson-Bell explained. “But it’s also when players can kind of lose their heads or do silly things. We just tried to keep everyone on the same page about what the goal was,” he said.
Despite Berkeley coming very close to scoring multiple times, when halftime came around, the score was still 0-0. In the second half, the game remained tightly contested. Senior Harlem Clemons came very close to scoring after an impressive solo run up the field, but O’Dowd’s defense managed to fend him off.
Co-captain and senior Niko Luckey felt that the team tried their best this game, but he was still disappointed in the team’s inability to put a shot in. “We created chances, but for scoring, we just weren’t able to finish. That was a big issue,” said Luckey.
The real action of the game picked up close to the final two-minute mark, when injury time began and the Jackets started fighting to put a shot in. There was a foul near O’Dowd’s goal, giving Berkeley a free kick with a good chance to score. It was saved by O’Dowd’s goalkeeper, but quickly after Berkeley got another free kick. Although they did not score on it, they got a corner kick, taken by Senior Oliver Gill. O’Dowd’s defense was able to stop the ball from getting to the net. All of these plays happened in only a couple of minutes, and all of the Berkeley fans who had come to support the team were very eager for the team to score a goal. Berkeley got one final corner kick at the very end of the game, taken again by Gill, but the team never managed to put a goal in. The game ended in a 0-0 tie.
The team was disappointed with not winning the game, but senior defender Kai Lucas thought the team showed improvement over the season so far. “I would’ve definitely liked to win, but we did get better from the last time we played O’Dowd when our performance was a bit subpar. So it was a nice way to cap off the rivalry,” he stated. With boys soccer no longer having a chance to place first in their league, the team has shifted their focus to making it farther in the North Coast Section playoffs. Lucas said he hoped for, “A long playoff run, hopefully we get some more wins, and close off the season with everything going well.”