The manner in which the Mountain View High girls soccer team dominated Saturday’s Central Coast Section Division I final showed it belonged – in the CCS Open Division.
The Spartans, who missed joining the Open’s elite eight by half of a point, shut out Ann Sobrato of Morgan Hill 3-0 in Saturday’s Division I championship game at Del Mar in San Jose.
“I think everyone was a little surprised,” coach Jeff Panos said of the results of the point-based playoff seedings, which not only left Mountain View out of Open for the first time in five years but placed the team as only the fourth seed in Division I. “But we did everything we could, and it was out of our hands.”
The slight seemed to only further motivate the Spartans, whose last season ended with an overtime loss in the Northern California Division II final.
“I think we were really hyped,” said sophomore forward Isabella Walker, who scored less than two minutes into Saturday’s match. “I think we wanted to win this year and get back to NorCals.”
While the three teams seeded ahead of Mountain View bowed out in the CCS Division I quarterfinals, the Spartans shut out No. 5 St. Ignatius 1-0 and then defeated No. 8 Notre Dame-Belmont 2-1 to reach the title match.
“I think we knew we got the toughest first-round match-up,” Panos said of St. Ignatius, which beat Mountain View in last year’s Open semifinals. “And when we got past that, we were like, ‘We’ve got a good chance at this.’”
The Spartans’ first-year coach didn’t waver after losing midfielder Sistine Noel – their top scorer and “our heartbeat,” he said – to a knee injury in the semis.
The team’s second-leading scorer – forward Maru Lasala – played Saturday’s game with a cast on her broken left arm, yet it didn’t seem to slow down the junior. She assisted on Mountain View’s second and third goals.
Sophomore midfielder Julia Webster scored the Spartans’ second goal on a cross from Lasala with 37:15 left in the half. The shot, like Walker’s unassisted goal approximately 90 seconds earlier, was from less than 10 yards away.
“Two goals in the first three minutes was a dream start,” Panos said. “We wanted to establish our wing play right away with Isabella and Maru on the outside, and I thought we did that almost from the opening kickoff.”
Mountain View (14-5-3 overall) didn’t get its third goal until 10 minutes into the second half, but sixth-seeded Sobrato (13-5-4) had few opportunities to score in between. The Spartans’ stout defense – led by Erin Coyne, Shannon Gould, Natalie Dekovic, Elechi Iroaga and Kate Stone – turned the Bulldogs away time after time. Freshman goalie Klara Helquist, who notched her second CCS shutout, was rarely tested.
“The defense was amazing,” Walker said.
The offense aided the cause by controlling the ball for most of the match. Senior midfielder Claire Pare’s second-half goal – off a pass from Lasala, who kept the ball away from two defenders before crossing it in front of the net – put the game well out of reach.
Mountain View has earned the top seed in the Northern California Division III playoffs and was scheduled to open at home against No. 8 Burlingame (11-4-6) in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, played after the Town Crier’s deadline.