Gauchos upend Vikings to gain finals berth

Casa Grande girls soccer team has advanced to Saturday NCS finals. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / PD).

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

PETALUMA — Casa Grande came up with its best game of the year Wednesday night, defeating Montgomery, 4-0, in a North Coast Section Div. I girls’ soccer match.

The win earns the No. 2 Gauchos (14-2-3) a ticket to play No. 1 Maria Carrillo in the championship on Saturday. Casa captured the Sonoma County League title while Carrillo is the undefeated champion of the North Bay League. The Pumas defeated Santa Rosa, 2-0, in the other semifinal game.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d beat a quality team like Montgomery by four goals,” Casa coach Vinnie Cortezzo said. “It was the best game we’ve played all year.”

The teams squared off earlier in the season; that game ended tied, 2-2.

The Gauchos got on the board halfway through the first period on a goal by Michelle King off an assist from Cierra Iribarne.

Casa made it 2-0 a few minutes before halftime when Noelle Laprevotte converted after receiving a pass from Nicole Stave.

King’s goal came when the Gauchos were able to swarm around Montgomery keeper Taylor McNeany.

“I hit a header that the goalie blocked,” King said. “The rebound went up in the air and Cierra was able to get another header that went off the goalie’s body. All of a sudden, the ball bounced right at my feet. I couldn’t believe it. I had an open goal in front of me.”

Laprevotte’s goal also came after the ball bounced off the Vikings’ goalie.

“Nicole kicked the ball toward the goal,” Laprevotte said. “It came off the goalie’s body hard and landed at my feet. All I had to do was put it in the net.”

At intermission, Cortezzo brought up one of his favorite adages.

“Whenever we get ahead 2-0 at halftime,” Laprevotte said, “coach always tells us that’s the most dangerous lead in soccer. He says if we come out relaxed to start the second half and our opponent scores a goal early, they’re right back in the game.”

The Casa players kept up the pressure and it paid off in the final 20 minutes as twin sisters Courtney and Christina Rebata each put in a goal to assure there would be no Montgomery comeback. Christina’s goal made it 3-0.

Emily Sewall, Casa Grande’s sophomore keeper, turned away every Vikings’ shot.

Montgomery coach Pat McDonald conceded the better team won Wednesday night.

“They just played better than we did,” he said. “I don’t think they got that many more shots on goal than we did. They just finished points. We didn’t.

“I’m proud of my girls. We tried hard and had a great season.”

Montgomery finished 16-3-4.

When asked about the Casa-Carrillo matchup in the finals, McDonald didn’t offer a prediction.

“It’ll be a good game,” he said. “Carrillo just has so much speed.”

The Pumas and Gauchos met prior to the start of league play this season with Carrillo prevailing, 2-0.

Cortezzo has built quite a dynasty at Casa. His teams have been NCS finalists four years in a row, winning the championship in 2007 and ’08. The Gauchos have been SCL champs five years in a row.