"We'll play them any time, any where…"

Santa Rosa's (white) in a game against Maria Carrillo earlier this season.

Santa Rosa's (white) in a game against Maria Carrillo earlier this season.

Undoubtedly, this is just exactly how the North Coast Section folks wanted it to happen in the Div. I boys soccer championships:

– No. 1 seed Marin Catholic (24-2-2) vs. No. 2 seed Santa Rosa (20-3-2).

– Game time: 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

– Site: Marin Catholic High School.

– Santa Rosa, champs of the North Bay League. Marin Catholic, champs of the Marin County Athletic League.

And for first-year Santa Rosa head coach Jon Schwan, his magical ride has him in what he considers the perfect position.

“I was kind of bummed when I learned that there wasn’t a neutral site involved in playing this game. So, I had to explain to the parents why we were going to play at Marin Catholic (they are the higher seeded team),” Schwan said. “But that’s OK. I kind of like being the underdog and playing away from home for a change. No one expects us to win this game. They figure Marin Catholic will just have to show up to win, they are that good. But I don’t care. We’ll play them any time, any where. We’ll play them in a Safeway parking lot if they want to.”

The SR Panthers have advanced to the finals with three wins: shutting out Healdsburg, 4-0; downing Tamalpais, 3-1; and rallying to beat Casa Grande, 3-2, in the semifinals. All the games were played at SR High.

The Wildcats won their first two games at home downing Redwood, 3-0; and beating Analy, 2-1, in overtime. Then they went to Elsie Allen on Wednesday and dominated the Lobos in the first half before holding on in the second 40-minutes for a 3-1 victory.

“I haven’t seen Santa Rosa play this year,” said MC head coach Paul Macovec. “They were in the preseason tournament we were in but we didn’t play them then. We’ve lost a couple of games this season, but I wouldn’t say we were beaten by the other team as much as we beat ourselves.”

With at least three, and maybe as many as five starters headed to NCAA Div. I play next fall for the Wildcats, is Schwan watching his team feel the pressure of playing against such talented players?

“Are we intimidated?” Schwan asked, “not at all. But we do know we will have our work cut out for us. I am sure everything they’ll do will start with their very talented midfield. We will just have to find a way to get in behind them.

“And they are so good in the air. I told our guys, and I think it bummed them out, that we aren’t going to shut them out. They are going to score. So we are just going to have to figure out a way to get 2-3 goals on them to win it.

“But I am really enjoying the fact that we are the underdogs in this game,” Schwan reiterated. “The pressure is totally off of us. They are the top seed. They are expected to win it.”

For the record, Marin Catholic has never won the NCS title. Santa Rosa has four NCS banners to its credit, the last coming in 1997.

NOTE: Marin Catholic will be without starting defender Dom Strazulo who received a red-card in the game against Elsie Allen with about nine minutes left…