It was business as usual for Maria Carrillo on Tuesday in its opening-round game of the CIF Division III Northern California girls soccer championship. The top-seeded Pumas won 2-0 against No. 8 Ann Sobrato of Morgan Hill to move on to host a semifinal matchup on Thursday against No. 4 Woodland.
Playing the Bulldogs (12-4-6) at Santa Rosa High, the Pumas (20-2-1) scored their two goals early in the second half. In the 42nd minute, Maria Carrillo’s leading scorer Kitana Gonzalez converted on a 16-yard shot off a through-ball pass from Meghan Chang. Gonzalez sent a low drive to the left-side netting as the Bulldogs’ goalie charged toward her.
“It was a great goal by Kitana. We needed the momentum,” Maria Carrillo coach Debra LaPrath said. “We had a slow first half, but we were really strong in the second half.”
Leading 1-0, Maria Carrillo bought insurance with a score in the 49th minute. Frances O’Donnell started a Pumas counterattack and dribbled 30 yards before slotting the ball to Sophia Trask, who gathered control and smashed a 15-yard shot for the jackpot.
“Frances had tons of space to dribble; it was a smart play by her,” LaPrath said.
Maria Carrillo had a 5-2 edge in shots and the Pumas keeper had a quiet day thanks to the defense.
“Our defense played well. They weren’t challenged that often,” LaPrath said. “We did a really good job distributing the ball from the back to the flanks.”
Next up is Woodland (20-1-5), which will travel to play at Santa Rosa High on Thursday (tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m.).
“We have some work to do. It was not our best game, for sure,” LaPrath said. “But we played well enough to win.”
Cardinal Newman 3, Center 1
The visiting No. 6 Cardinals (13-10) scored early and often to pull off the upset against the No. 3 Cougars (19-4) of Antelope in their Division III opener.
“This was an upset for sure. Now that we got through the North Coast Section playoffs, we worked through the jitters,” Cardinal Newman coach John Gilson said. “We came out really strong and put Center under pressure.”
The Cardinals struck in the fourth minute as Victoria Holden redirected a cross from Ella Wright from 6 yards out for a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later, the Cardinals scored again — this time Wright converted a 6-yard shot on a cross from Keely Roy.
In the 22nd minute, Center scored to narrow its deficit to 2-1. However, the Cardinals took a 3-1 lead in the 35th minute as Wright delivered a ball to the mouth of the goal and Roy finished it from 8 yards out.
“That third goal took a lot out of Center. Going into halftime we felt pretty good about ourselves,” Gilson said. “We dominated the first half. Every time we collected the ball we were dangerous. Center was on their heels. We showed them early on that they were going to struggle with our offensive athleticism.”
The second half was scoreless, as the Cardinals played relatively conservatively with their two-goal lead.
“We salted the 40-minute second half away,” Gilson said. “We did a good job of managing the back half of the field defensively.”
In the semifinal game on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., Cardinal Newman will travel to San Francisco to play host No, 2 Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep (15-7-3) at historic Kezar Stadium.