St. Vincent a pushover? Hardly

Say what you will about St. Vincent head girls coach Paul Sweeney, but what you can’t say is that he’s not very Irish, he’s not very into soccer and he’s not confident that his team can knock off the two-time defending Div. III girls champion Sonoma Academy on Saturday.

You see, Sweeney is all of those and more.

“We lost to them last year on a free kick in the second overtime and that was on a questionable call,” Sweeney said. “And we played them tough earlier this season. We lost that game (2-1 at Prince Park) but it was early in the year, I think they had played more games than we had and they were more fit. But even at that we controlled huge chunks of the game. It should be different this time.”

The 5 p.m. Saturday contest just might be the most entertaining game of the weekend. Sweeney’s team is led by junior forward Sarah Iniguez who comes into the championship match with 22 goals.

Sonoma Academy (18-2-0; NCL II South champions) will counter with sophomore forward Kate Bayes. The speedy Bayes has 50 goals this season with a powerful left-foot. She scored four times in an 8-0 semifinal win over Clear Lake.

Coyotes’ head coach Chris Ziemer’s biggest challenge on Saturday may simply be getting his team up for another meeting with St. Vincent.

“No, I don’t think that will be a problem,” Ziemer said. “We have seven seniors on this team that have won league all four years they have been here as they helped build a strong nuclus for our program. And they’ve had a competitive matchup with St. Vincent (16-1-0; NCL I South champions) for four years now. We won the last two years, they won in 2006.

“It just isn’t difficult to get them up for St. Vincent. We have great respect for each other.”

Sweeney, in his second season at St. Vincent, agrees and he also feels very confident this time around.

“We’ve met them once and I just don’t think they are as strong as they were last year,” Sweeney said. “And I think we are a little better. It should be a very good match.”

In addtion to the win over Clear Lake, Sonoma Academy beat Calistoga, 8-0, earlier in the tournament.

“We beat a very well-coached and organized Roseland Prep team and then we played a confident Middletown and advanced,” Sweeney explained.

Both of those wins by St. Vincent were by 2-nil scores.