Road trips for championship games don’t appear to bother the St. Bernard’s girls.
On Wednesday night, they clinched a second straight North Coast Section Division-III soccer championship, and once again they did it on the road against the No. 1 seed, winning 5-2 at Upper lake.
The Crusaders came to play despite the long trip south for the game, and once they took the lead late in the first half there was no way back for the Upper Lake girls.
“We had a lot of improved passing and communication, and they really hustled the whole game,” head coach Danny Roscoe said. “We were real pumped up.”
Once again, senior striker Emma Wilson was instrumental in the win, scoring four goals, including a second-half hat trick as the SB girls began to assert their dominance and pull away.
Wilson scored in every game of her senior season and finished with a remarkable 27 goals.
Teammate Torrin Baty also got on the scoresheet, netting early in the game on her 16th birthday to give the Crusaders a first-half lead.
Playing from behind was something the top seeds were not used to this season and it showed.
But while the SB offense provided plenty of scoring, the team defense was every bit as impressive, including goalkeeper Hannah Eads, who made nine saves and turned in another composed performance despite only starting between the posts for the past couple of weeks.
Freshman defender Sienna Bulluck-Martinez also was key and made numerous big tackles on Upper Lake breakaways, while stopper Alondra Adkins anchored another strong performance from the defense.
“Our defense was very good tonight,” Roscoe said.
Ema Brenes also had a big game in her final appearance for the team and her long throws have been instrumental in the team’s success all season, including on Wednesday night.
Teammate Bella Maki came up big as well and contributed all over the field.
“She dropped back to help us in defense,” the head coach said of Maki. “She works hard.”
It was the second straight postseason where the Crusaders beat a higher seed on the road in the championship game, having also knocked off Technology in 2019, the last time the NCS held a playoff tournament.
The section title is the fourth overall for the Crusaders, who also won in 1999 and 2003.