While there was no bigger play in the Northern California Division I girls soccer final than Kaya Rosa’s game-deciding goal in the final minutes, Sophie Murdock’s defensive performance in the second half may have been just as instrumental in top-seeded St. Francis High’s 1-0 win over Carondelet.
Lancers coach Carlos Barboza said that after a scoreless first half in which the visiting Cougars “had four or five good shots” on goal, he tasked junior defender Murdock to shadow Carondelet star forward Lauren Kenny for the rest of Saturday’s game.
“Sophie locked her down,” Barboza said. “She’s the best defender in Northern California.”
Murdock made sure Kenny – who entered the game with 27 goals – didn’t get close to adding to that impressive total.
“I followed her around the field to make sure she wouldn’t dribble or get any shots,” Stanford commit Murdock said. “I’ve been playing against her for several years in club, so I think that made it easier for me.”
With their best player unable to shake Murdock, the second-seeded Cougars (21-3-1) struggled offensively against a St. Francis defense that allowed just eight goals all season.
“They had no clear goal-scoring opportunities in the second half,” said Barboza, who praised his entire defense for playing a part in that. “The first half was even, but we were the better team in the second half.”
Yet the game remained scoreless until there was just under three minutes left. That’s when senior midfielder Rosa got the ball some 30 yards away from the goal, dribbled past four defenders and drilled a shot from just inside the 18-yard penalty box.
“It has to be the biggest goal (in program history) and the best individual goal,” said Barboza, whose Lancers won their first NorCal crown and became the first team from the Central Coast Section to claim the Division I title. “It was an absolutely incredible moment for her. She stepped up for the occasion.”
Murdock was equally impressed.
“It was an amazing shot,” she said. “I told her, “I think it was the best goal all season.’ ... Once she got past that last defender, I knew she would score; she has such a winning mentality.”
It marked Rosa’s sixth goal of the season – and it came just days after her younger sister came through for St. Francis (25-1) in the quarterfinals. Sophomore forward Kamryn Rosa headed in a corner kick by Charlotte Kohler Feb. 28 that enabled the Lancers to eke out a 1-0 win over No. 8 San Ramon Valley.
Two days later in a rematch of the CCS Open Division final, St. Francis beat No. 5 Menlo-Atherton 2-0 on goals from Penelope Correa and Landen Matthews.
That allowed the Lancers to reach the NorCal final for the first time. Barboza said his players were determined to take care of business after failing to capture the CCS Open and NorCal titles a year ago.
“After winning CCS (Feb. 25), they celebrated a little bit on the field, but they didn’t feel their goals were accomplished yet,” he said. “You could tell they were not done yet. Their eyes were on NorCal.”
Murdock added that her team was on a mission to make up for what transpired last season.
“Last year, the team put in so much work before CCS and NorCal, and it felt deflating to lose,” the team captain said. “We didn’t want to make the same mistakes. We were super motivated.”
MV boys fall in semis
After winning two CCS games – including the Open final – and its NorCal Division I quarterfinal match on penalty kicks, the Mountain View High boys lost on a PK in Thursday’s semifinals. Second-seeded Clovis North edged the No. 3 Spartans 3-2 on a penalty kick with about seven minutes to play.
“Could have gone either way,” Mountain View coach Jim McGuirk said, “but our luck seemed to run out on us a bit.”
Sola Nishimura scored both goals for the visiting Spartans (16-3-5), the second one (assisted by Liam Barrett) tying the game with approximately 12 minutes to go.
Two days earlier, Mountain View beat No. 6 Whitney, the defending champ, on PKs. The game was tied at 1 after regulation – with the Spartans’ goal coming on a header by Eduardo Caballero – and overtime. Host Mountain View won the shootout 6-5 after goalie Parker Lunn saved Whitney’s last shot.
MV girls lose on PKs
The Mountain View girls, seeded sixth in Division I, lost at No. 3 Del Oro on penalty kicks in the Feb. 28 quarterfinals.
Karena Shah’s goal (assisted by Hailey Westcott) in the final minute of regulation enabled the Spartans (14-5-3) to tie the game at 1, but after a scoreless overtime, they lost the shootout 4-3.
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