Of all the coaching decisions Ivan Bandov has made in recent years to help the Mountain View High girls soccer team remain among the best in the state, perhaps none of them trumps moving Lucy Tang to forward this season.
She scored both goals in the Spartans’ 2-0 home win over Presentation Saturday in the Central Coast Section Open Division quarterfinals. That gives Tang a team-high 21 goals for the year.
“She’s had a really good season,” Bandov said. “I would have never imagined her getting 21.”
Tang didn’t imagine that, either – especially after scoring just six goals as a midfielder last season.
“I actually did not expect that at all,” she said.
Tang scored a goal in each half for the second-seeded Spartans (20-1-0), who not only advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals against No. 6 Sobrato (played after the Town Crier’s deadline), but also qualified for the Northern California playoffs with the win.
Tang said her initial goal, coming with 10:40 left in the first half, “wouldn’t have happened without the help of the near-post runners.” Those teammates created space for Tang to boot the ball to the far post from 12 yards away. Midfielder Bethan Parry earned the assist.
Forward Laura Carceroni set up the second goal, taking the ball at midfield and bursting past defenders before delivering it to Tang.
“She fed it to me on the side, and then I had space to take on players and go around and just finish it,” Tang said of her 5-yard shot, which doubled Mountain View’s lead with 25 minutes left.
The UC San Diego-bound Tang nearly scored a third goal 12 minutes later, blasting a shot from approximately 30 yards out that bounced off the crossbar.
But the way the Spartans’ defense played Saturday, one goal would have been enough to beat No. 7 Presentation (14-3-4). Mountain View goalkeeper Renee Landa was never tested, as the Panthers didn’t get a single shot on goal. Midfielder Sydney Arrillaga and defenders Elena Palacios, Erin Coyne, Shannon Gould and Ava Coan turned the Panthers away time after time.
“How we defended, starting from the front to the back, is really what we focus on,” Bandov said. “It’s not just the back four. We make it difficult for them to get out of their own half and then that gives the back four a better chance to close everything down.”
The Spartans dominated the game without one of their top midfielders, senior co-captain Nicole Bumgarner, who sat out with an injury that Bandov said may sideline her for the playoffs.
“She’s a huge loss for us, no doubt about it,” he said, “but we had some other kids step up today – and that’s what a team’s about.”
Mountain View has overcome injuries before, according to Tang, whose team is shooting for back-to-back CCS Open Division titles.
“We have good chemistry and backup players who step on the field and fill in that role,” she said. “We never let that hurt us. We always come back stronger if we have someone out and support each other.”
If the Spartans beat Sobrato (12-2-6) Tuesday, they would face top seed Mitty (18-1-2) or No. 5 Palo Alto (13-4-2) in the final, slated 5 p.m. Friday at Santa Clara University’s Buck Shaw Field.