High stakes Battle of the Birds match ends in heartbreak for the Cardinals

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In an important Battle of the Birds match, the Washington Eagles beat the boys soccer team 2-0 on Feb. 14 at home.

Kimberly Yee
Senior midfielder Eric Pearce keeps the ball on his toes as he makes his way to the goal on Feb. 14.

The Cardinals needed to win this game in order to make it to playoffs, due to their defeats to Marshall and June Jordan. This was also Lowell’s last home game, making it ‘Senior Day,’ a celebration of the team’s seniors who were going into their last match as a Cardinal.

The game started off shaky for Lowell, with the players experiencing high pressure to come out on top. With this tension, the Eagles were able to open up the game with high pace and aggression, chipping away at Lowell’s defense.

Lowell was able to settle in, however, and start their own advances towards Washington. Senior midfielder Eric Pearce found himself in Washington’s goal area, with the ball flying overhead. He He headed it, but he puts the ball just wide and past the post.

Even with Lowell’s newly found confidence, they couldn’t stop Eagles senior Takumi Elbert from putting one past the Cardinals defense, with the ball hitting the goals’ side netting with five minutes left in the half. With this goal, Washington made it that much more difficult for the Cardinals to go to the playoffs.

Kimberly Yee
Junior defender Luke Woodhouse tries to keep the ball on the pitch.

This concluded the first half, making it 1-0, Eagles.

While Lowell was not happy about conceding a goal, it was time for Senior Day festivities to commence. This began with some words by coach Juan Lopez on how proud he was of the seniors on his team. Next, the team formed a tunnel, and with Lopez’s que, each senior ran through the tunnel with applause from the stands. Posters had also been made by teammates, sporting the players number and name, held proudly by each senior team member.

After this prolonged half-time performance, the Cardinals looked in good spirits heading into the second half. With this boost of morale, they headed onto the pitch hoping to score the two goals needed to make playoffs.

However, even with the well needed boost, the Cardinals kept falling short. Washington took control of the game again, and showed why they were the ones ahead. Lowell attempted to win the ball back, by any means necessary.  In an attempt to win the ball, senior midfielder Luis Fonseca shoved a Washington player while simultaneously tripping him. When the game’s referee, Steve Valdespino, warned Fonseca and started to signal for a Washington free kick, speculation says Fonseca bad-mouthed Valdespino, causing him to be sent off and given a straight red card. This meant the Cardinals were forced to play with 10 men, and still needed two goals in order to make playoffs, a tough ask of any team.

Kimberly Yee
Senior forward Juan Tulio Martinez makes his way through three Eagle defenders.

Washington thrived and the Cardinals, being a man down, could do little about it. This resulted in the Eagles scoring another goal shortly after the red card was awarded.

Lowell never gave up, though, with shots from Lowell’s forwards in counter-attacks. Lowell also kept a good amount of possession, but nothing was going in. After the Cardinals missed a shot on an open goal, the game came to an end. Washington players were glad to have won this Battle of the Birds game, but the Cardinals came off the field looking devastated.

After the game, the team had their usual post-game discussion, this one being more emotional than usual, given the loss and the fact that it was Senior Day. Lopez understandably declined to comment after the match, concentrating on consoling his team after a tough defeat.

Due to this loss, this game ended the Cardinals’ season. The team will not make playoffs for the first time since the early 1990s.