Fresh off turning in their best overall performance of the season en route to capturing a Sonoma County League co-title in thrilling fashion in last week’s finale, the Sonoma Valley High School varsity soccer boys, unfortunately, began the postseason with their most disappointing match of the campaign.
In Wednesday night’s North Coast Section Division-1 opener at Arnold Field, the eighth-seeded Dragon boys hosted ninth-seeded Santa Rosa out of the North Bay League and, after controlling the early play, took a 1-0 lead 25 minutes into the match and nearly scored a second goal.
Then Sonoma collapsed into a series of defensive lapses that led to three straight goals by the visiting Panthers, two scores coming in a 48-second span near the end of the first half, to take a 3-1 lead at the break and, playing with momentum, opened up a daunting 5-1 advantage midway through the second half.
When it looked like the out-of-sync Dragons were done, they finally seized the momentum and staged a riveting rally down the stretch and tallied three straight goals before the NCS match, and their season, ran out of time. Santa Rosa escaped with a 5-4 win.
Pacing Sonoma were senior Anthony García’s pair of goals, senior Brian Ruiz’s goal and assist, and senior Andy Chávez’s free-kick goal with a minute left in the match.
Rounding out the SCL co-champion Dragon varsity boys – directed by longtime head coach Pedro Merino and assistant coach Mike Linder – were seniors Miguel Guillén, Paco Martínez, Alejandro Echeverría, Anthony Echeverría, Max Floerke and Zack Thompson; juniors Rodrigo Bernal, Brian Casillas, Gregorio De la Cruz, Jose “Ángel” Garcia, Chris Molina, Edgardo Pontz, Sam Sonheim and Alexis Zamudio; sophomores Haliel Juárez, Teodoro Magaña and Edwin Reyes; and freshman Alfredo Ramírez.
Sonoma’s SCL third-place varsity soccer girls were seeded 12th in NCS Division-1 and traveled to Petaluma Wednesday evening for and opening-round match against perennially tough fifth-seeded Casa Grande and, trailing 2-0, just missed scoring a goal, and grabbing the momentum, in the final moments of the first half.
Though the Lady Dragons held up defensively in the second half and yielded only one goal, they, unfortunately, couldn’t score and ended up dropping an NCS and season-ending 3-0 decision to former SCL rival and current NBL foe Casa Grande.
Comprising Sonoma’s varsity girls – coached by Julio Leon, who’s assisted by Mike Verdu – were seniors Ellen Angeloni, Brenna Hamilton, Maria Hawing, Kirsten Hodgson, Katy Marioni and Megan Neely; juniors Maddie Dougherty, Shelley Marmaduke, Emily Miller, Monica Ramirez and Christen Silkey; sophomores Bella Bollman, Lilyanna Carranza-Lugg, Annie Greenslade, Brigette Vanoni and Mia Vanoni; and freshmen Alanna Johnston, Annie Lilenthal, Lena Mallett, Hayden Pearce and Katie Stovall.