NCS girls’ Div. III title: Mustangs get a little luck, big crown

By HOWARD SENZELL
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

After losing in the North Coast Section Div. III finals the past three seasons, St. Vincent’s girls’ soccer team was ready for some help from Lady Luck.

St. Vincent’s Alex Grant celebrates after the Mustangs beat Roseland University Prep, 2-0, in Saturday’s NCS girls’ Div. III championship. (KENT PORTER / THE PRESS DEMOCRAT)

Good fortune did indeed shine on the No. 2 Mustangs in Saturday afternoon’s championship game as they used a little luck and a stingy defense to defeat No. 1 seed Roseland University Prep, 2-0.

Twelve minutes into the game at Nevers Field on the Santa Rosa High campus, the Mustangs got an inkling that 2010 was going to be their year.

The good luck sign came with the score 0-0 and the ball near the Roseland net. Junior Jessica Maynard had positioned herself for a header when fate stepped in.

“I took a cross from Shannon Carroll and instead of the ball hitting the top of my head,” Maynard said, “it hit under my eye and came off with a crazy bounce.”

Maynard didn’t know why the ball hit under her eye instead of the top of her head, but she and the St. Vincent faithful loved the outcome. The ball took two high bounces and rolled lazily inside the net. Roseland keeper Maria Cardona was in position to stop a header, not a shot that bounced wildly after hitting Maynard’s face.

Natalia Sumodjo gave the Mustangs an insurance goal with 31 minutes remaining. The center forward intercepted a pass near the Roseland goal and placed it perfectly in the left corner of the net.

The memory of having lost three consecutive NCS Div. III finals probably cost coach Paul Sweeney a lot of sleep.

“We lost all three of those games to Sonoma Academy,” Sweeney said. “The last two were in overtime, so that made it even tougher to think about. I knew we were overdue to catch a break, but I also knew the girls had jelled as a team in recent weeks. We’re much better than earlier in the season.”

Another plus was that Sonoma Academy moved up to Div. I this year. The Coyotes were seeded No. 10 in the top division and lost, 4-0, in the opening round to Analy.

Ashley Torres was stellar in net for St. Vincent, as usual. The 6-foot senior allowed two goals during the regular season and only one in three tournament games.

“They got a couple of hard shots on me,” Torres said after accepting her winners’ medallion, “but the defense made some key stops to take the pressure off.

“I was concerned when we were ahead only 1-0, but when we got that second goal, I knew the championship was going to be ours.”

The teams played early in the season with Roseland Prep prevailing, 1-0.

According to Sumodjo, St. Vincent had only practiced for two or three weeks when the teams first met.

“We weren’t used to playing with one another,” the senior said. “Now, we’re used to playing together and it’s made all the difference.”

Saturday’s goal was Sumodjo’s 13th of the season.

This was the first appearance in an NCS championship game in Roseland Prep history. The school is in its eighth year.

“We had a great season,” coach Alexica Bosque said. “The St. Vincent players played like they’d been in a championship before; we started out a little nervous.

“Their defense played great and turned away the chances we had to score. Our defense had a few breakdowns that led to St. Vincent scores.”

The Mustangs end the season 17-2 while Roseland’s record drops to 15-4-4.