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Sonoma Valley soccer teams both head into NCS playoffs

As the winter sports season comes to its regular-season end, both boys and girls soccer teams can look forward to at least one more game, in the opening round of the 16-team bracket for North Coast Section Division 3 championship.

The girls are the highest-ranked Dragons team for the playoffs, ranked eighth after a third-place finish in the VVAL (league record 6-5-1, overall 8-5-3). Last week was a split for them, kicking off with a 5-0 drubbing of American Canyon on Feb. 12. After jumping out to an early 1-0 lead on an Auguste Andi shot over the goalkeeper, the offense had to make adjustments against the American Canyon defense who played an aggressive offside trap. 

But they figured it out, and two minutes before the half ended, midfielder Bella Brophy scored on a cross from Andi, who herself followed with another goal on an assist from sophomore Chelsea Young, taking the Dragons into the half with a 3-0 lead.

“We knew what American Canyon was going to do and despite their speed, we were able to play our possession game and finish our chances,” said Coach Ellie Ceja. The coach put in a couple lesser-used players, including freshman Marley Sutter from the JV team, and sophomore Patty Saldana getting in some much-needed time as keeper. Saldana kept the score-sheet clean, and two more goals from sophomores Caroline Studdert and Carina Viven gave the Dragons an exhilarating 5-0 win over AC.

Their luck ended two nights later, as powerful Casa Grande showed why they’re tops in the VVAL (finishing 11-0-1). But it took a team effort to beat the pumped-up Dragons, who kept the game in control throughout, knocking down Gaucho shots and launching more than a few of their own.

It was an end-to-end game, and only midway through the second half Casa got a throw in that bounced high into the box, allowing them to slot in a goal. The crafty play was the only score of the game in a surprisingly tight 1-0 win over the Dragons.

The Dragon girls finish the season in third place in VVAL. They will face San Rafael in the first round of the NCS Division 3 playoffs on Wednesday, Feb. 18, in San Rafael at 5 p.m.

The soccer boys ended their season with a couple big wins over Vine Valley opponents, and a 6-4-2 league record for fourth place (8-5-3 overall).

The regular season’s final game was played on Saturday, Feb. 15, at Adele Harrison Middle School. It found the Dragons shutting out American Canyon for a 3-0 win. They lost their two previous games, 6-2 against Casa Grande and 4-1 against Vintage, after defeating Justin-Siena 4-0 on Feb. 10.

Coach Pedro Marino said that “all my boys played well and gave it their all,” and singled out Justin Castillo, Salvador Domíguez, Nate Jordan, Oscar Rivas and goalkeeper Sergio Flores for “their defensive and offensive total effort in each and every game.”

The boys soccer team will also begin a playoff run on Wednesday, when they face Acalanes in Lafayette at 5 p.m.

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