By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Rincon Valley Christian’s standout soccer player, senior Charley Mumford, missed the first eight minutes of Saturday’s North Coast Section Division 3 quarterfinal game because he was taking the SAT in Petaluma.
When Mumford finally got on the field, he got a quick geometry refresher, and was reminded of the definition of “scrutiny.”
Fremont Christian, the No. 11 seed, pulled off its second upset of the playoffs, clipping No. 3 RVC 2-1, and the visiting Warriors did it largely by giving nonstop attention to Mumford and taking away his scoring angles.
“If we were gonna lose,” Fremont Christian coach Nick Liston said, “we were not gonna get beat by Charley Mumford.”
Liston and his team knew that Mumford had scored 20 of the Eagles’ 47 goals this season, and that he was the RVC player most adept at creating his own shot. To stop him, Liston drafted freshman Edgar Alinez.
“He usually plays forward, but he’s also a very good defender,” Liston said of Alinez. “He practiced there all week.”
The Warriors almost always collapsed another defender or two on Mumford when he got in front of the goal. In essence, Fremont Christian was daring another RVC player to score, and it didn’t happen.
Not that the Eagles didn’t make it interesting.
Fremont Christian (16-7-1) went up 2-0 in the 54th minute on a goal by Matthew Delarno, putting the Warriors’ bench in a festive frame of mind. In fact, Liston and his assistants felt the mood was a little too gleeful. They turned to admonish the reserves, telling them to stop laughing and reminding them that nearly 30 minutes of game time remained.
Sure enough, about a minute later, Mumford took a pass in the crease from Michael Cantrell, saw some rare open space in front of him (though he was sandwiched by opponents on either side) and planted the ball in the left side of the net from 15-to-20 yards out.
A second-half team all year, Rincon Valley Christian (11-10-2) was buoyed by the goal. The Eagles are known for scoring on long through passes, and they had some opportunities for those after halftime. They really picked up the pace in the final 10 minutes of the game, but could not score that equalizing goal.
“Their defensive line was hanging really far back most of the game,” Mumford said. “I think they just had a really good plan, and they executed well. We got some opportunities. Just not enough.”
On an unseasonably warm day at RVC, Fremont Christian’s bigger roster and superior depth seemed like an advantage, but Eagles coach Tor Benestad wouldn’t cite it as an excuse.
“We went from freezing rain to warm weather,” Benestad said. “But I don’t think it was a factor. Most of this season we’ve gone with one or two subs.”
The Warriors went up 1-0 in the 24th minute when a throw-in by Isaac Liston skipped off an Eagles defender and was stuck into the net by Bill Huang, a utility player who had scored just one goal this season.
It was that kind of day for Fremont Christian, whose second goal came when RVC goalkeeper Harrison Doolittle got caught in traffic and Delarno scored into an open net. Like Huang, Delarno is not among the Warriors’ leading scorers.
Fremont Christian advances to play at No. 2 Anderson Valley on Wednesday, a 2-hour, 45-minute drive that the underdogs are happy to take. The D3 bracket looks wide open after No. 9 South Fork’s overtime victory over top seed Geyserville on Saturday.
Rincon Valley Christian must focus on next year. A young team, the Eagles are losing only three seniors.
You can reach Staff Writer
Phil Barber at 521-5263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.