Don’t be fooled by the lack of licensed drivers on the Mountain View High girls soccer team – the Spartans are still steering toward a berth in the Central Coast Section playoffs.
“I think trying to make CCS is always the main goal for our program, so that doesn’t change,” said coach Ivan Bandov, whose young team is off to a 3-1 start.
Although Mountain View has an overwhelming number of underclassmen – 14 of the 19 players, nine of whom are sophomores – nearly half the team has varsity experience. Six of the eight returnees started on last season’s squad, which reached the playoffs after finishing second in the formidable SCVAL De Anza Division.
Midfielders Erica Higa and Danna Weintraub are tri-captains with another senior, defender Neha Cheemalavagu. Juniors Morgan Matthews and Morgan DeAngelis return to the starting lineup as well, along with fellow forward Ysabel Baluyot, a sophomore.
All but center back Cheemalavagu – whose main job is to prevent goals, not score them – produced points last season. They combined for 40 goals and 46 assists. Baluyot topped the team in goals (14), followed closely by Matthews (13). Higa’s 26 assists were more than three times as many as the next-best player in that category.
Matthews and Baluyot each scored a pair of goals in Mountain View’s 4-1 win over Santa Clara Dec. 10, while Higa notched two assists.
New starters include returnees Rachel Ng, a sophomore defender, and senior goalie Sophie Brotzel, who “has been solid,” Bandov said.
Three newcomers are also playing significant roles on the team.
“Freshman Allie Coyne has been terrific so far at left back and has played every minute so far,” Bandov said. “Freshman Grace Descourouez has seen a good amount of time at center mid as well. Sophomore Kasey Cruz has done a nice job for us as well.”
The Spartans may not be as deep as last season’s team (17-4-3 record; CCS semifinalist) or the previous year’s squad (17-2-3; CCS champion), but Bandov sees something special in these girls.
“We’ll have to overachieve to have similar seasons to the past, but one thing I really like about this team is we have amazing girls who work really hard,” he said. “(There are) no attitudes or egos that will get in the way of creating a great chemistry. That’s one thing that will help us have a successful season, I think.”
Mountain View – which lost 3-1 at Menlo Thursday despite outshooting the Knights 21-3 – is slated to face Hillsdale 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Burlingame Tournament.
2013 girls soccer: Mountain View High School - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier