- Published on Tuesday, 15 February 2011 16:00
- Written by Pete Borello - Staff Writerfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Mountain View High girls soccer team has a chance to make school history today and even more before the month is over.
The Spartans can capture their first Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division title with a win over sixth-place Palo Alto, scheduled to visit at 3:30 p.m. After today’s league finale, Mountain View can take aim at its first Central Coast Section crown.
“With making the quarters two years ago and the semis last year, we think it’s about time we made the finals, and hopefully win the whole thing,” forward Kirsten Belinsky said. “I think we are capable of doing this if we take every game individually and not get too far ahead of ourselves. We just need to play like we’ve been playing all season.”
The Spartans’ last loss came Jan. 12 against Los Gatos, their only challenger for the league title. Friday’s 2-all tie at Homestead put Mountain View’s record at 7-1-3 in the daunting De Anza Division; Los Gatos is 6-0-5 and hosts fifth-place Gunn today.
“We’re still in the driver’s seat,” said coach Simon Cook, whose Spartans are 14-2-3 overall. “We’ve got a chance to do something we’ve never done – win league – and on Senior Day.”
With only five seniors – far fewer than last year’s second-place squad – Mountain View has exceeded Cook’s expectations. The Spartans have outscored their opponents 48-18 this season.
“The team is doing very well,” Cook said. “We’re playing some really good soccer and scoring lots of goals.”
The Spartans play an attacking style, starting four forwards who are capable scorers. Junior Emily Andrew leads the team with 17 goals, “a phenomenal number,” Cook said. Belinsky is next with 12 goals, followed by fellow seniors Tavi Crum and Elizabeth Browne with nine and three, respectively.
“The four of them have different skills and give us so many striking options,” said Cook, in his third year as coach. “Tavi is strong, Kirsten is a great dribbler, Emily has speed and Elizabeth is a terrific passer.”
So just imagine how opposing teams feel when they line up against Mountain View.
“Teams can’t just focus on shutting down one player,” said Belinsky, whose 10 assists ties Crum for the team lead. “It makes us hard to defend.”
Defenders must account for midfielder Erica Higa as well. The freshman has three goals and two assists.
“She’s played pretty much every minute at center mid, which is a tough position,” Cook said.
Higa and sophomores Emma Donckels (fullback) and Ally Gamble (midfielder) have been integral to the team’s success, according to the coach.
“I thought this would be a rebuilding year after losing so many seniors, but those three newcomers have helped fill the gaps and are a big reason why we’ve done really well,” Cook said.
Donckels plays a key role on a defense that doesn’t surrender goals easily. Goalie Sarah Bennett, a junior, has seven shutouts, which Cooked called “very impressive.” It’s even more so when considering Mountain View often uses four or five attackers.
“Our defense is solid with just three defenders, which allows us to keep more players up the field,” said Belinsky, headed to Brown University.
While the defense has been formidable and the offense potent, Belinsky believes teamwork is the primary reason the Spartans are thriving.
“We have so many talented players that it makes us so much better when we pass the ball around than when any of us try to work alone,” she said.
It’s that sort of attitude that makes this team better than last year’s squad, according to Cook.
“We’re playing far better soccer this year,” the coach said. “We have good soccer players who work well together – there’s a very good team spirit. They work hard and all have a common goal, which is to win every time they step on the field.”
And perhaps make some school history in the process. The CCS playoffs are scheduled to begin Tuesday.