The St. Bernard’s girls are heading back to the NCS Division-III championship after a 2-0 win over Upper Lake at Crusader Field on Saturday.
The home team scored twice in the opening 11 minutes and made it count, holding off the visitors with some outstanding defense and another game-changing play from first-year goalie Rachel Rodrigues.
The senior shot stopper saved a penalty kick in the first half that head coach Phil Rouse said changed the game.
It was Rodrigues’ fourth save from seven penalty kicks she has faced this season, a remarkable statistic at any level of the game.
“It really would have changed the game,” Rouse said of the attempt, which came at a time when the Cougars were beginning to take control. “If they would have scored that goal, they would have been back in game.”
Rodrigues got the clean sheet with plenty of help from a stellar back line of Josie Peterson, Ema Brenes, Emma Wilson and Ata Fonoti, the latter of whom did an excellent man marking job on Upper Lake’s chief attacking threat.
“They kept everything in control,” Rouse said of the defense. “They really did a good job back there.”
Marayah Tomlinson scored both SB goals, the first coming just seven minutes in and the second four minutes later off another brilliant free kick, something the senior has become adept at this season.
Another senior, Mackenzie Finck, was instrumental in settling the team with a composed second-half performance, just as the visitors were threatening.
The No. 2 seed Crusaders will play either No. 1 Technology or No. 4 Calistoga in Wednesday’s NCS championship game.
Mack boys fall to Making Waves
The McKinleyville boys bowed out of the NCS Division-I playoffs on Saturday, falling 2-0 at No. 2 seed Making Waves.
The home team got the breakthrough in the second half of a tight affair and never looked back.
“It was a game that whoever scored first was going to win,” McKinleyville head coach Ryne Deppe said. “Really, it was a great game, but definitely a heartbreaker.”
According to Deppe, his players “left it all on the field,” none more so than defenders Alex Macy and Lalo Benavides-Garb.
In midfield, Narayan Weibel continued to impress, as did Dustyn Huneke and Blake Vogt.
It was an up-and-down season for the Panthers, who struggled at times but closed out the regular season in style, and were unbeaten in five straight games coming into Saturday’s showdown.
“Overall it was an achievement,” Deppe said. “We did have our bumps on the road, but we did get through (the first round of the NCS). It was a good steeping stone.”
The Arcata boys were also in action on Saturday, losing 2-1 at Fort Bragg in sudden death after battling back from an early 1-0 deficit.