NCS girls soccer: Maria Carrillo wins ‘beautiful game’ for third consecutive championship

By ALLIE COLOSKY
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

ROHNERT PARK — Chants of a third consecutive championship filled the night air, as the Mario Carrillo girls soccer team celebrated the perfect ending to a perfect season.

The No. 1-seeded Pumas’ 2-1 victory Saturday night was the third straight time they had defeated No. 2-seeded Montgomery in the North Coast Section Division 1 title game.

“It got a little sloppy when the pace was frantic, but we managed to hang on,” Pumas head coach Debra LaPrath said. “It was a beautiful game.”

In a physical championship game, both teams battled to gain possession in the opening minutes of the first half.

“The kids are disappointed but I’m not,” Vikings coach Pat McDonald said. “They were down two goals and kept fighting. You can’t ask for more.”

Both teams struggled to make gains until a Montgomery penalty gave Maria Carrillo a free kick and some motivation.

“Some teams will retaliate in other ways, but this team will put it in the back of the net,” LaPrath said.

Maria Carrillo’s Cami Rencken found an opening on the left side of the field. A cross to the middle was drilled home by Brooke Dunbar, and the Pumas were on the board.

Madison Gonzalez continued to apply pressure as she used her footwork to find some wiggle room on the right side of the goal. A cross through the middle found the foot of Miranda Gonzalez, and the Pumas extended their lead 2-0.

“It just perfectly hit my left foot and went into the net,” Gonzalez said. “The celebration just flowed out of me.”

After battling a concussion and other illnesses, Gonzalez said the night couldn’t be any more special as it was for all of the six seniors on the team.

The Vikings opened the second half with new fire, as they aggressively pushed the ball up the field.

A scramble in front of the Pumas net left goalkeeper Claire Howard out of position, and the Vikings’ Lannea Langer popped the ball through to the back of the net.

“It was a hustle play,” McDonald said. “She was laying on the ground and just headed it into the goal.”

Howard recorded five saves for the Pumas. Vikings senior goalkeeper Shyniah Austin finished with six saves, and Izzy Christmann notched seven saves in the second half.

“Even though we gave up two goals, our defense was outstanding,” McDonald said. “We had a really great year.”

Maria Carrillo finished the season with a perfect 15-0 North Bay League record, 20-0-1 overall. Montgomery finished 12-3 in the NBL and 20-3 overall. All three losses were to the Pumas by just one goal.

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