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February 24, 2010 > Shaky play for locals in NCS

Shaky play for locals in NCS

By Giovanni Albanese Jr.
Photos By William Mancebo

Entering the North Coast Section (NCS) soccer tournament for both the boys and girls, there was some promise that some teams would exhibit success. Of the eight local prep teams playing - five girls; three boys - only one team escaped the first round.

That team, John F. Kennedy High School boys soccer, didn't even win the Mission Valley Athletic League (MVAL). In fact, Kennedy was bounced in the semifinals of the MVAL tourney by eventual champion Newark Memorial High School.

After Newark handled them quite easily, 5-2, Kennedy was given the seventh seed in the Division II bracket, giving them a quasi-home game against 10th-seeded Dougherty Valley High School, taking place at Tak Fudenna Memorial Stadium at Washington High School in Fremont on Wednesday night's, Feb. 17, first round.

Kennedy took down the Diablo Foothill Athletic League (DFAL) representative, 1-0, earning a date with the second seed, Albany High School, in the second round.

But Kennedy didn't exude success in its second-round match-up with Albany, as the Cougars took care of the Titans with ease in the Saturday, Feb. 20, match to advance to the NCS semifinals. Albany's Ramirez led the way for the Cougars' attack, netting two goals in the win.

Newark Memorial boys, after claiming the MVAL championship, earned the number-seven seed in the Division I bracket. Coach Rick Villa commented pre-game about his team's chances.

"I believe anyone of the teams in the tournament can win the title. The ball bounces funny, sometimes," said Villa. "If we go out and play with the intensity we did on Friday and Saturday (in back-to-back wins over James Logan High to win the MVAL tourney), win or lose, I will be pleased that we did our best."

And despite a home contest against the tenth-seeded Clayton Valley High School, winners of the Diablo Valley Athletic League (DVAL), the Cougars came out flat and were upset, 3-1.

"I thought we played with good intensity, but giving up the two penalty kicks right before halftime really took the wind out of sails," said Villa. "Clayton Valley came out in the second half very excited. We have to give it to them. They played hard and deserved to move on."

Logan, who won the boys MVAL regular season before being downed by Newark, got the 12th seed in the Division I bracket and a road game at number-five seed Richmond High School, the Alameda Contra Costa Athletic League's second-place finisher.

Logan coach Matt Sills knew his Colts were in for a tough match with Richmond, but felt they could get the victory if the team played a high-pressure style of play.

"For us to come back with a win we will need to continue to do what got us a league championship and into the NCS Championships in the first place," said Sills. "We need to continue to play a high pressure game, be physical, and work for each other.

"We've struggled most of the year with finishing; putting the ball into the back of the net," Sills added. "We need to capitalize on our opportunities. And play with more urgency in the attacking third of the field."

Much to the chagrin of Sills, the Colts weren't able to dictate play, nor finish its opportunities at goal, falling to the Oilers, 3-0, and being eliminated.

"We played hard, but we were out of gas after having played three games in four days," said Sills, whose team was also missing four starters. "Richmond is a good team ... they deserved the win. We will take it as a learning experience and come into next season with eight returning starters."

Three MVAL girls teams - Washington, Mission San Jose and James Logan - got bids into the NCS Division I bracket and were all bounced out relatively easily.

Washington, despite its no.-12 seed, played host to the fifth-seeded Lady Grizzlies of California High School. But home-field advantage wasn't enough of an edge to upend the higher seed, and the Grizzlies, behind Kayla Santacruz and Rachel Feldman goals, beat the MVAL-champion Huskies, 2-0, to advance to round two.

Mission San Jose, the MVAL runner-up, got the number-13 seed and traveled to DVAL champion and fourth-seeded Clayton Valley. Kelsey Booth led her fellow Eagles to victory with a two-goal performance, earning the team a second-round match with the 2-0 win.

Logan, with its 15th seed, traveled to De La Salle High School to take on second-seeded Carondelet High School. Carondelet's Lady Cougars scored two goals in each half to beat Logan handily, 4-1. Chrisalyn Garingan was the lone goal scorer for the Lady Colts in the loss. Lauren McQuiston and Rogan Dolan both had a goal and assist to lead the Lady Cougars into the second round.

In the girls NCS Division II bracket, two Hayward Area Athletic League (HAAL) teams - Hayward and Moreau Catholic high schools - earned at-large bids.

As the no.-15 seed, Moreau got itself a home game against second-seeded, and DVAL champion, Berean Christian. Moreau coach Andy Hulbert thought having the home field may play in the team's favor.

"It definitely gives us a slight advantage. Teams that are used to playing on their artificial turf fields and then have to come and play on our grass field always take time to adapt," said Hulbert before the game. "Berean Christian is a very good club and will be very tough to play. That's the beauty about soccer though; the underdogs always have a chance of pulling off an upset."

Moreau did give Berean a run for its money in its first-round match up. In the end, the higher-seeded Lady Eagles prevailed, 1-0, despite having to make the trip to Moreau.

Hayward's Lady Farmers earned the 12th seed with its at-large bid. With that draw, Hayward got a road match at DFAL champion and fifth-seeded Miramonte High School.

Ashley Kawaguchi powered home a shot in the eighth minute of play to put the Lady Matadors on top early; Miramonte took its 1-0 edge into halftime.

After a defensive struggle throughout most of the second half, Mackenzie Martin broke through the Hayward defense in the 77th minute to give Miramonte a 2-0 lead, which was held on to the final whistle.

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