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Random thoughts from a memorable WSC

As great as that championship battle between California and San Ramon Valley was tonight (the Grizzlies won 2-1 in overtime to claim their second straight Gold Division title), there was no more fitting way to end it than with the game’s best shot from the game’s best player, California’s Andrew Wiedeman.
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If there was an MVP award for the Winter Soccer Classic, it would have gone to Wiedeman. The Cal-bound senior scored four goals and had two assists, despite missing Tuesday’s game after a red card Monday.
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If the Wolves had won, it probably would have gone to goalkeeper Tommy Comer, who made 13 saves to keep his team alive in the final and didn’t allow a goal in the first three games. Another candidate would be Antone Ugarte, who scored five goals in the tournament.
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The WSC does a halfway decent job of avoiding blowouts by making goals against the first tiebreaker after head-to-head, but when the next tiebreaker is goals scored, you’re going to see scores like California’s 8-0 win over Alameda. That win gave the Grizzlies just enough goals to beat out Richmond for a spot in the title game.
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If California, which started 0-2 in league and lost to Livermore in its opener, can beat San Ramon Valley, which won its first 12 games overall, it’s safe to assume the EBAL will be pretty fun to watch this year. We can only hope there are more games like Friday night’s classic in store for us.
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But maybe the rest of the East Bay is catching up a little to the powerful EBAL. Last year the championship and third-place games of the WSC featured nothing but EBAL teams. This year’s championship was all-EBAL, but Richmond and Antioch played for third.
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And was there a more stunning result in the tournament than Antioch’s 4-0 rout of Richmond in that third-place game? Is Antioch really as good or Richmond really as bad as they both were tonight? Probably not, but that’s an impressive win for the Panthers that could give them a boost when North Coast Section playoff seeding comes around.
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College Park moved up to the Gold Division this year, hoping to prove itself against the best teams in the area and improve its playoff seeding. If the Falcons proved anything, it’s that they’re close. A pair of 1-0 losses to California and Monte Vista will surely leave them wondering what might have been, though they should feel confident that they can compete come playoff time.
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And one last note, just for kicks: If there’s a player in the East Bay with a bigger leg than California goalkeeper David Bingham, I’d like to see it. "Booming" doesn’t do justice to Bingham’s soaring drop kicks, which somehow come down softly after traveling up to 75 yards in the air. It is a unique weapon, especially when he uses it to deliver the ball to a waiting Wiedeman.

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