Vikings-Gauchos: As even as it gets

Junior Taylor Derby and the rest of the Casa Grande defense will be tested Saturday night.

Junior Taylor Derby and the rest of the Casa Grande defense will be tested Saturday night.

The statistics tell you just about all you need to know about Saturday’s 7 p.m. Div. I girls finale between two-time defending champion Casa Grande and Montgomery.

Here you go:

– Casa has won the last two titles – over Montgomery.

– Of the past six championships, Montgomery owns three of them.

– Montgomery has eight, count ’em 8, NCS banners hanging somewhere in the Vikings’ trophy case.

– The Gauchos were the first, and so far only Sonoma County League girls team to hoist a NCS banner.

– The teams have met twice already this season with the Vikings winning both games 1-0 – in the preseason Prospectors’ Tournament and a preseason game at Montgomery.

“The most important thing about these  two teams is that they have incredible respect for each other,” Vikings’ head coach Pat McDonald said. “I think in the last five meetings between us and Casa Grande, one goal has decided each game.”

Few doubt that it will be any different on Saturday night. Montgomery comes in to the game with a 21-2-1 record, a No. 1 seed and they are the champions of the North Bay League. Casa Grande is 15-2-3, champs of the Sonoma County League and a No. 2 seed. They couldn’t be much closer.

“It’s not gonna be an easy game no matter how you look at it,” Gauchos’ head coach Vinnie Cortezzo said. “They are a quality team. It never has been an easy game when we played them.”

McDonald thinks he has his team as ready for the Gauchos.

“We are about as ready as we can be for this game,” McDonald said Friday afternoon. “There isn’t a whole lot you can do now after coaching them for a whole season and them playing together for a whole season. I’m not going to try to give them a whole lot of information now. Just let them go out there and play.”

The Vikings advanced to the title game with a pair of 2-0 wins over first Sonoma Valley and then NBL rival Santa Rosa.

“That was really a strange game,” McDonald said of the semifinal contest against SR. “Maybe it was the long introductions or the instructions or something but the first half  just seemed to be all disjointed or something.”

The Gauchos path to give themselves an opportunity to three-peat was a little different. They easily handled Arcata, 6-1, before meeting Maria Carrillo in the semis. That game, played at Casa Grande, was scoreless at the half before the Gauchos pushed across two goals in the final 40 minutes for not only a victory on the scoreboard but also a tremendous mental boost as they beat the No. 3 seeded 18-2-1 Pumas.

“We are peaking at the right time,” Cortezzo said. “We played very well against Maria Carrillo and we had a sharp workout today (Friday) at Lucchesi Park in Petaluma on artificial turf. Yes, I think it’ll be low-scoring cause playoff games tend to be that way. But both of these teams are capable of scoring a lot.”