Girls NCS soccer seedings

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Once again favored to win the large school girls section soccer title, Maria Carrillo likely must get past Casa Grande, the team that took down the Pumas for last year’s title.

Cardinal Newman and Montgomery — the remaining top four seeds — would face off in the other North Coast Section semifinal if the brackets hold form.

Upstart Middletown and always powerful Sonoma Academy lead the small school pairings. St. Vincent and Clear Lake also are positioned to reach the final four.

With the top three North Bay League teams and Casa Grande topping Division 1, the sectionals are a preview of an even more competitive NBL next season when the Gauchos and Windsor join the league.

“If the top seeds hold, the way it shakes down we should play Carrillo. But we can’t look past anybody,” said Casa Grande coach Vinny Cortezzo. “We knew it would be tough to repeat. We have a good team and we’re peaking.”

The winner of Windsor and Rancho Cotate in round one goes to Maria Carrillo in the quarterfinals. The Pumas will use the week to prepare for a run to the section title.

“We’re going to give it a shot,” said Maria Carrillo coach Debra LaPrath. “The players want to take that last game whoever they have to go through. We’re confident and playing well.”

Maria Carrillo has been the Empire’s most consistent team and Casa Grande has not lost since falling to the Pumas early in the season. Cardinal Newman and Montgomery are title candidates after riding roller coaster schedules.

Analy could challenge from the fifth seed. A young and improving team, the Tigers should get past Fortuna to earn another match with Casa Grande.

While defeating an opponent three times in the same season is difficult, Casa Grande is playing well and should handle Analy again. Playing at Maria Carrillo would be the Gauchos first section contest away from Petaluma or a neutral site in Cortezzo’s five years leading Casa Grande.

“We’re going to live with it. Our goal is to go on to the final and win,” Cortezzo said.

The Pumas handled the Gauchos in an early season game, winning 5-3.

“We expect to see Casa in the semifinals. It would be fun to get them again,” LaPrath said.

With teams playing their best when games count most, even the top seeds must raise their level of play.

In Division 3 Middletown and Sonoma Academy are set to meet in the section finals. Yet St. Vincent and Clear Lake are strong sides and both St. Helena and Cloverdale can challenge for the small schools crown.

“It’s just one game at a time. It’s a different season,” LePrath said.

NCS GIRLS SOCCER

FIRST ROUND

DIVISION 1

BYE: (1) Maria Carrillo (19-1); (2) Cardinal Newman (13-1-2); (3) Montgomery (11-5-3); (4) Casa Grande (12-3-1)

Wednesday, Nov. 2

AT RANCHO COTATE HS
(8) Rancho Cotate (10-8-3) vs. (9) Windsor (6-8-2), 7 p.m.

AT ANALY HS
(5) Analy (11-3-4) vs. (12) Fortuna (10-5-2), 5 p.m.

AT McKINLEYVILLE HS
(7) Santa Rosa (11-8-2) vs. (10) Arcata (13-5-2), 5 p.m.

AT PETALUMA HS
(6) Petaluma (9-4-3) vs. (11) Eureka (12-6-1), 7 p.m.

DIVISION 3

BYE: (1) Middletown (16-3); (2) Sonoma Academy (17-4); (3) St. Vincent (15-2); (4) Clear Lake (17-4-2); (5) St. Helena (11-3); (6) Cloverdale (13-5-3)

Wednesday, Nov. 2

AT ELSIE ALLEN HS
(8) Roseland Prep (12-6) vs. (9) Rincon Valley Christian (10-8-1), 5 p.m.

AT NAPA COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS
(7) Calistoga (13-8-1) vs. (10) St. Bernard Catholic (9-8-4)