A month ago, St. Francis High girls soccer coach Dawn Hill wasn’t sure her Lancers would make the Central Coast Section playoffs, let alone win a championship. But there they were Saturday – celebrating a 2-0 win over Woodside in the Division I final at Valley Christian.
“That was fun,” said Hill, whose 10th-seeded squad scored a goal in each half against No. 1 Woodside.
A month ago, the season was far from fun for St. Francis. The Lancers had just been shut out for the second game in a row, slumping to 7-8-2 overall.
“We were struggling,” Hill said. “Our goal was just to make CCS and get to .500.”
Then St. Francis, beset by injuries and illness for much of the season, got healthy – and got rolling. The Lancers followed a tie with six straight wins, the last four in the playoffs.
“When the season was on the line, the seniors stepped up and other key players figured it out,” Hill said.
Seniors like Emma Blackburn, who scored a team-high four goals in the playoffs.
“At the start of the season we had a lot of injuries and sickness, but in the postseason I think we’ve been very focused at practice,” the midfielder said. “We’ve been able to connect passes really well, avoid careless turnovers, as well as create a lot of good scoring opportunities.”
Courtney Mathisen and Morgan Ketas each capitalized on such an opportunity Saturday. Mathisen’s goal came in the 10th minute on what Hill called “a funky shot.” The senior forward took a pass from Catherine Paulson and booted a 20-yard shot that she “got off really quickly to the far post.”
Sophomore midfielder Paulson also assisted on the Lancers’ second goal, which occurred midway through the second half.
“Catherine hit a great ball to the top of the box and Morgan ran in and finished it,” Hill said.
St. Francis (13-8-3) continued to create chances, and its defense – which surrendered just one goal in CCS – made sure Woodside (8-5-8) didn’t get any.
“Our defense in the CCS tournament has been great in general,” Hill said. “Our back line has done a great job.”
The coach praised her defensive anchors – senior captain Lily Perryman and sophomore Lauren Beers – along with goalkeeper Tierney White.
“Lily has been a rock back there, and she and Lauren have played well together,” Hill said. “Our goalie has been really vocal. She’s a sophomore new to varsity who’s been getting better and better.”
So has St. Francis, which enters this week’s Northern California Division II playoffs having outscored its four CCS foes 14-1. The fourth-seeded Lancers were scheduled to open at home against No. 5 Woodland (19-1-5) Tuesday, after the Town Crier’s press deadline. The winner advances to Thursday’s semifinals at the home of the higher-seeded team. The final is slated for Saturday.