Gauchos ready for the Vikings


OK, coach Cortezzo can we have your tentative starting lineup for Saturday night’s North Coast Section Class 3A championship game against Montgomery?
You’re kidding, right?
“No, why should I give McDonald (Montgomery head coach Pat) any more information than he already has?”
Vinnie Cortezzo was chuckling at the moment, but then again he also wasn’t going to play his hand.
Too important.
Too big of a game for the defending NCS champs to hand over any edge.
“But, I will tell you this,” Cortezzo added, “Melissa (Madrid) will start.” And he laughed – heartily.
Of course, Madrid will start. Afterall, the senior scored the winning goal in last year’s upset win over these same Vikings for the Gauchos first-ever NCS championship and a victory that gained legitimacy for the level of girls soccer played in the Sonoma County League.
And she scored the winning goal when the Gauchos beat the Vikings way, way, way back on Aug. 29.
“She is our leader,” Cortezzo said, “but she’s a quiet leader, unlike our captain of last year Alyssa Benjamin. She was vocal, strong, a powerful player. Melissa is quiet but she has certainly stepped up this year. She’s our leader.
“She (Madrid) made the difference in our semifinal win over Petaluma. She made about a 40-yard run and then hit a rocket that was put back in on the rebound. She didn’t get the goal, but she certainly made the play.”
The Gauchos (17-1-0) enter Saturday night’s game relatively healthy (“Oh, we had a couple of pulled muscles after that semifinal game, but nothing serious”) and young (“We may start only three seniors, and it could be as few as one”).
Does the youth card worry Cortezzo?
“No, we started four sophomores in last year’s finals, so they know how to handle the pressure,” Cortezzo said.
Was Cortezzo surprised at the final score, 1-0, of his recent semifinal game against Petaluma?
“No, what really surprised me was when we beat them 6-3 in the regular season. I never thought that would happen.
“And the past two seasons have shown folks what the (club team) Sonoma County Alliance teams are all about. We have 9 or 10 SCA players on our roster and Petaluma has 6 or 7. They all are playing within the same system so when we get them at the high school level it is much easier for them to come together as a team.
“For years Santa Rosa United players dominated, but that has changed.”

NCS Girls Class 3A Championship Game

– Montgomery vs. Casa Grande

5 p.m. Saturday at Santa Rosa High