By TED SILLANPAA
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The final score didn’t necessarily reflect the display of dominance by Maria High Carrillo’s girls soccer team Saturday.
The Pumas rolled to an early lead, kept Windsor from mounting any offense, and earned a 3-0 North Coast Section girls Division I soccer win at Elsie Allen.
Top-seeded Carrillo improved to 18-0 with the win, advancing to the NCS semifinals Wednesday at home against the winner of a match between Casa Grande and Analy.
The winners took the 3-0 lead in the first half and virtually cleared the bench early in the second half.
“Some teams in that situation don’t substitute and just want to bury the other team,” said Maria Carrillo’s coach Debra LaPrath. “There’s no point in that. We got up 3-0 and I got a lot of kids playoff experience. I would’ve liked to have played them all. The game wasn’t in the bag or anything, but we have talent on the bench. Those kids work really hard in practice. They deserve the opportunity.”
Ninth-seeded Windsor finished the season 4-8 after goalkeeper Morgan Jernigan’s play in the face of a barrage of shots kept the final margin from being much worse. Jernigan’s performance in goal was, indeed, a bright spot for the Jaguars.
The Pumas, however, were never threatened.
Freshman Madison Gonzalez scored off an assist from Victoria Korvatch nine minutes into the match to give the Pumas a lead.
The diminutive freshman found the back of the net from in close among a crush of defenders and Puma teammates.
Ali Schaffer scored seven minutes later off a corner kick and assist by Katie Mohr.
“We played well in some aspects of the game, but not all,” LaPrath said. “We didn’t win the first ball as often as we should. We wanted to get the ball out of the air. We didn’t do that very well. We didn’t finish the many opportunities we had.”
The mercurial Gonzalez appeared on the verge of converting one opportunity when she was taken down hard from behind in front of the goal. A penalty was called, and Mohr’s penalty kick upped the Pumas’ lead to 3-0 with 14:31 left in the first half.
Even a 3-0 first-half lead and virtually no Windsor offense anywhere near the Carrillo goal didn’t completely please the Pumas.
“We were a little off today,” Mohr, a senior co-captain, said. “We were fortunate to score off some of our set pieces. But it wasn’t our best game.”
Mohr couldn’t quite put her finger on the problem that confounded the Pumas, even in the win.
“It just didn’t feel like a playoff game,” she said of the match that started at 5 p.m., after a boys’ playoff match ended. “We waited around all day and that might’ve had something to do with it. We wanted to get out there.”
LaPrath hopes her defending NCS champions play more crisply in the semifinal.
“Every playoff game is tough and every opponent is a good one,” she said. “We can’t look at it like teams get better in every round or anything. At this point, any team can beat any other team. We’re looking forward to semifinals.”
Mohr and her mates are anxious, too, given that they’ve been in the postseason regularly throughout her career.
“The playoff experience that we have is huge,” she said. “When I was a sophomore, we knew we kind of got cocky in the playoffs. Then, last year, we didn’t let that happen and we just played really well. We want to repeat that this year.”