It was beautifully different for the St. Vincent High School girls soccer team Saturday afternoon. For the fourth straight season, the Mustang girls reached the North Coast Section Division 3 championship game. In their previous three tries, they were denied the ultimate prize.
That all changed on a bright fall afternoon when the Lady Mustangs dominated Credo from Rohnert Park, 4-0, to claim the NCS championship pennant.
To write that the win that completed a perfect 19-0 season was satisfying is understating the obvious.
“It is nice to finally win one,” said St. Vincent coach Kevin Richardson. “I’m so happy for the kids. It is terrific for them.
“The ultimate goal is to win the championship. The girls understood that. I’ve never seen them so prepared as they were today.”
“This is the happiest I have ever been,” said senior Neila Gross “It is so great to finally win one.”
Her twin sister, Katie, noted the players who had come so close before this year’s team.
“We’re humbly thankful for all the seniors who went before us,” she said.
Sophomore Athena Edwards, who sparked the St. Vincent offense throughout the playoffs, said she hopes the championship is a start.
“We want to build on what the seniors started,” she said.
Although Credo gave St. Vincent its toughest game of the three playoff matches, St. Vincent still dominated, building a 3-0 halftime lead and ensuring that everyone had plenty of playing time.
Katie Gross, working off a pass from Edwards, scored for St. Vincent in the 15th minute and the Mustangs never came close to trailing.
Grace Hosbein hit the right corner of the net with a successful penalty kick a short time later to up the Mustang advantage to 2-0.
The first half was into stoppage time when Katie Gross was smashed by Credo’s Shasta Oru on a hit away from the ball and lay on the St. Vincent turf for several minutes before being assisted off the field by sister Neila Gross.
Katie would return later in the game.
No card was issued for the hit.
However, St. Vincent almost immediately retaliated with a sizzling goal by Edwards. Immediate was needed because the goal came just a heartbeat before the officials signaled the end to the half.
St. Vincent dug in behind its game-long smothering defense in the second half, occasionally spreading across its half of the field as it went into its “possession offense.”
Credo didn’t have much opportunity for any offense, possession or otherwise, as St. Vincent pressed the ball into the Credo side of the field the entire game.
When Credo did drive into St. Vincent territory, the visitors found getting a clear shot on goal impossible against Mustang defenders Julia Murphy, Patti Chelini and Rebecca Wolf.
St. Vincent goal keeper Clare Galten had little to do most of the game, although she did dive for one spectacular save.
Late in the game, Athena Edwards of Saint Vincent scored the fourth goal of the game.