Overtime goal sinks Spartans in NorCal final

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Mountain View’s Isabella Walker, left, races St. Francis-Sacramento’s Marli Berry for the ball in Saturday’s NorCal final.

For 80 minutes, shots were scarce in Saturday’s Northern California Division II girls soccer final between host Mountain View High and St. Francis of Sacramento. Then, less than two minutes into overtime, the visiting Troubadours broke the scoreless tie with a golden goal from Lindsey Piatanesi.

As her teammates piled on the forward in celebration, the Spartans stood stunned.

“It was really quick, right? About 90 seconds in,” Mountain View coach Ivan Bandov said of Piatanesi’s game-winner, a 20-yard shot over goalkeeper Sophia Sasaki’s head that came after a corner kick. “We mis-clear one ball and it falls to one of their talented kids and she strikes a great ball, to her credit.”

The next-best shot of the defensive struggle came from the third-seeded Spartans (20-3-2 overall) with just under 10 minutes remaining in regulation. Isabella Walker blasted a ball from 15 yards out that bounced off the crossbar.

“It looked good, but it kept rising and rising,” Bandov said of the straight-on shot. “Probably seven out of 10 times that ball goes in.”

Walker, at a loss for words when asked about the attempt, praised the No. 4 Troubadours (23-3-4) for keeping her team’s potent offense in check.

“We couldn’t really get past them,” the freshman forward said. “We had a few chances, myself included, but I guess we couldn’t finish them.”

Mountain View had two other chances earlier in the second half – one that sailed over the crossbar and the other that veered just right of the goal. Allie Montoya set up the first one on a nice cross to Claire Pare with 26:45 showing on the game clock.

Freshman forward Montoya recorded two goals and an assist in Thursday’s semifinal win at No. 2 Montgomery of Santa Rosa. Tied at 3 after regulation and overtime, the Spartans’ prevailed 4-2 on penalty kicks. Montoya made the first of those PKs; Sistine Noel, Charis Toney and Sydney Arrillaga made the others. Noel also notched a goal and assist in regulation.

That lengthy match may have come back to haunt Mountain View Saturday afternoon.

“You could see how tired we were from Thursday’s game,” Bandov said. “We just didn’t have the legs, and that hurt us.”

Walker added that playing 30 games – including three NorCal playoff matches over five days – took a toll on her team.

“I think over the course of the whole season, it’s been really hard playing to this point,” she said. “Our bodies are tired.”

But for Walker, it was worth it.

“As a freshman on this team, it’s just been so nice,” she said. “I was really scared at first to start off with a new team with older players, but now they’re my friends – my best friends.”

Walker and Bandov both said they will miss the team’s four seniors: Arrillaga, Sarah Davenport, Emma Lewis and Renee Landa.

“They were brilliant,” Bandov said. “Sarah and Emma were in their first year as our starting outside backs, and they stepped up on and off the field. Sydney is our holding mid – she’s our glue – and Renee was our goalie last year and is a terrific player.”

Although the Spartans couldn’t send the seniors off with a NorCal crown, Bandov said the team should feel good about what it accomplished this year.

“I’m sure they’re a little bummed out right now,” he said, “but they’ll remember their great season and they’ll be very proud of themselves.”

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