Ygnacio Valley High boys soccer team along with De La Salle basketball and wrestling each enjoyed post-season success this winter but none of them could match Carondelet’s achievement of winning the Northern California Regional soccer championship with three victories on the road in a week as the lowest seed in Division I.
The Cougars won the East Bay Athletic League championship and that earned them the top seed at North Coast Section Division I where they were defending champions. They easily won their first two games at NCS before being shocked in the semi-finals 2 -1 by Berkeley, ending a streak of four straight years in the section championship game.
Their long-time league rivals Monte Vista then defeated Berkeley 1-0 to gain second seed at the Northern California Regionals. The Mustangs eliminated Carondelet in the inaugural 2018 and 2019 NorCal semi-finals.
The NCS semi loss dropped Carondelet to the eighth and last NorCal seed so they were paired at top seed Clovis North in the first round. The Cougars rallied to tie the game in the second half and won 3-2 in overtime to upset host Clovis North for the second year in a row at NorCal. They followed up with a 3-2 win at St. Francis of Sacramento in the semi-finals.
Ellie Ospeck, the Carondelet standout headed to Notre Dame in the fall, scored in the 65th minute on an assist by Elizabeth Vrnesh for the championship winning goal 1-0 at third seed Archbishop Mitty in San Jose. Goalkeeper Maddie Buckley had four saves in the shutout.
Ygnacio Valley was the No. 4 seed in NCS Division III. They won back-to-back shutouts over Rancho Cotate and DeAnza before beating San Rafael 3-1 in the semi-finals. The Warriors spotted Albany the first half lead but rallied for a 3-2 championship game win. YV also won the 2016 D-III title and were second last year to Bishop O’Dowd.
As top seed at NorCal the Concord school got a first-round bye. They hosted Harker of San Jose in the semi-finals at Ryan Stadium and lost a shootout 4-3 after the game ended 2-2. Incredibly, it was the fourth straight shootout win for Harker in the Central Coast and NorCal playoffs.
De La Salle won the EBAL boys title and were D-I second seed at NCS. The team had one-goal wins over Amador Valley and Pittsburg before meeting up with their nemesis Berkeley. The Yellowjackets beat the Spartans 1-0, eliminating the Concord team for the third time in four years at NCS.
The Spartans got the eighth seed at NorCal and fell at No. 1 Jesuit in Carmichael 2-1.
Clayton Valley Charter was seeded second in Division I and reached the semi-finals with 2-1 victories over California and Vintage. In the semis the Ugly Eagles were eliminated the same day as their Concord rivals De La Salle. Top seed Montgomery of Santa Rosa blanked CVCHS 3-0 and went on to win the title 3-2 over Berkeley in the finals.
De La Salle was top seed in Division I as the highest ranked team after the six schools placed in the new Open Division playoffs. The Spartans even got a first-round bye at NCS before having lopsided wins over College Park and Monte Vista. They beat Granada 57-44 for their fourth D-I championship in five years and 14th overall.
The Spartans got the fourth seed at NorCals and won home games over San Joaquin Memorial 67-52 and Menlo-Atherton 53-43.
In the semi-finals DLS was slated to visit top seed Archbishop Riordan in San Francisco. The game was delayed and then moved to Concord because the Riordan community had a coronavirus patient. Eventually the Crusaders withdrew from the tournament, which moved DLS into the Regional championship game against seventh seed Campolindo.
The Moraga visitors came out hot in the Concord gym and jumped to a 34-21 halftime advantage and withstood Spartan comeback attempts to win 54-49 and earn a shot at a repeat championship at State. It was a short-lived celebration as CIF canceled the state final games before they began in Sacramento last weekend.
De La Salle and Northgate claimed NCS dual team championships last month and the Spartans completed their double titles with the team championship at the NCS meet in Union City. It was the sixth championship in a row and number 11 in past 12 years.
At North Coast, Bobby Cuevas (106 pounds), Gavin Fernandez (132) and Bradley Moore (220) won their weight class with Lance Hackett (195), Mario Franco (132), Darin Guerrero (132) and Ben Roe (285) taking second and Atri Feizi was third as eight Spartans qualified for State Meet.
Clayton Valley Charter had two state qualifiers in Andre Gargani (132) and Casey Strand (138), who followed in the footsteps of his Hall of Fame two-time state champion dad who served as an assistant coach at CVCHS this winter.
Champion Cole Sanchez (152) and Angelo Esposito (160) moved on to State for the Broncos, who placed fifth in the team standings.