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East Bay Boys Soccer Notebook: NCS Semifinals

It’s time to preview the North Coast Section Division I and II boys soccer semifinals.

Division I

No. 1 De La Salle v. No. 4 Berkeley

Berkeley comes into this semifinal with a wave of emotion and momentum after a thrilling win over a championship-caliber team in Richmond. The Yellowjackets have persevered this year through scrutiny, and being underestimated, to legitimize themselves as one of the top four teams in D I.
Now a confident group, one that has had one thing in mind all year, rolls into play the defending champs and the team that has truly been the favorite all along, De La Salle.
“The goal all along has been to win an NCS championship and I think we deserve a lot of credit,” Berkeley coach Phil Scicluna said. “We went after every top team that made themselves available this year, and now De La Salle is another cog in the wheel. They’re another step for us.”
This might sound like a bit of a surprise statement, but De La Salle has been maligned this year too, with many people considering them beatable.
Compared to last year’s team, one that comes around once in a generation, maybe that statement is true, but the fact remains the Spartans are probably the most balanced team in the East Bay.
Berkeley is strong up top with Jesus Carriedo and Josh Jamieson (among others) and the Spartans defense, led by Sean Sweeney, might be enough to stop them.
The Spartans are also extremely solid in the midfield where Wes Moar and Michael Bernardi control things, while attackers like Justin Howard, Tobin Sullivan and J.T. Tallarman create problems.

No. 2 San Ramon Valley v. No. 6 California

The last time the Grizzlies visited San Ramon Valley, a 3-0 defeat in January, it was the start of their first and only swoon of the season. It was the start of a stretch where they lost three out of four games.
One of those three losses was a loss to Granada, which Cal avenged with a 1-0 win in the quarterfinals, setting up another chance at revenge on the road against the Wolves.
The Grizzlies have bounced back nicely after two years of up’s and down’s following the very good team they had in 2007.
“They have quality players and quality coaching,” San Ramon Valley coach Don Busboom said. ”Chris (Faidley) has done a tremendous job navigating them through growing pains over the last couple years and now they are a matured team who is skillful, disciplined, and focused.”
The key for the Grizzlies starts in the middle with Guillermo Rivas, who is a dynamic player. The first time these two teams played, he was frustrated a bit, but bounced back the second time around when Cal salvaged a 2-2 tie.
The Wolves, on the other hand, are incredibly balanced offensively. Bobby Edwards, Johan Sjogrell and Alex Chaussey lead the way, scoring a combined 24 goals. San Ramon Valley is very aggressive both offensively and when closing in on the ball on defense.
A defense that has only allowed 24 goals in 25 games has also been very key. Cal, also, has allowed just 24 goals this season.

Division II

No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd v. No. 4 Acalanes

These are two championship caliber teams, and it is a rematch of last year’s D II final, and it promises to be a knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out slugfest. Last year, it was a 0-0 final settled with PK’s in an Acalanes win, and that was on a sunny day.
Now, add the rain, and an Acalanes defense that has allowed just nine goals (only five that weren’t own goals or PK’s) and you have the recipe for a very low-scoring game.
“Acalanes is a very organized, well coached team,” Bishop O’Dowd coach Peter Belanger said. “No one is going to get a lot of shots in this game; it has never happened in all the years we’ve played Acalanes and it probably never will. Defensively everything starts with their keeper, (Logan) Spittler, who is proving himself to be one of the best around in this his senior season. They have played an excellent schedule this year and have had great success. They come into this game with a winning attitude.”
The Dons three losses are nothing to be ashamed of, losing 1-0 each time to a pair of top D II teams, Dublin and Las Lomas.
The Dragons, dating back to the beginning of last season, have lost only twice in their last 51 games. They have tied nine times and have won an astounding 40 games over that time. They have outscored their opponents 64-12 this season.
Only rivaled in balance by De La Salle, this team has it all. Lock down defenders in Drew Ranahan and Davonte Dubose, fantastic play in the middle from Charlie Ranahan and Max Ornstil and tremendous play on top by Taylor Reitz and Carson Swafford make them a challenge for anybody to shut down.

No. 2 Albany v. No. 3 Dublin

Possibly the most intriguing of the semifinals as the high-flying Albany offense (104 goals scored this season) takes on the stingy defense of Dublin (16 goals allowed). The immovable object against the unstoppable force.
This is also the first semifinal appearance in school history for the Gaels, as if stopping Albany wasn’t enough of a challenge.
“My boys are loose, you won’t see a group of tight kids on our side tomorrow,” Dublin coach James Fulwiler said. “To have a chance at winning this game, we need to keep the ball away from their center mid’s.”
Dublin will be facing a formation with five center midfielders for the second consecutive game as seeing at on Saturday against Ygnacio Valley might end up being a big help in the long run.
The Cougars are also a team that does not have a recent tradition of going deep into the NCS playoffs, and they dealt with questions about their competition all year, being compared to Boise State several times.
But this team has answered some of those questions with two solid playoff performances, beating Salesian and Kennedy-Fremont by a combined score of 6-0.
The Cougars are extremely talented offensively, with Gabriel Borges, Manuel Ramirez and Mason Zupan combining for 58 goals. Peeja Khorashadi is a very important part of this offense, controlling the middle, and Juliano Pereira is the key for Albany defensively.
Team defense will be the key for Dublin, but offensively it will be Cody Hoster and Trevor Weir that make them go.

Rankings

Just a small shuffle in the top seven. I think the biggest point of contention will be Richmond at No. 6 and Granada at No. 7. A two-spot fall for the Oilers and a four-spot drop for the Matadors. On the strength of a tie, and eventually PK loss to a higher-seeded team than Granada lost to, I chose to have Richmond above them. Please debate.

1. De La Salle (16-5-3)
2. Bishop O’Dowd (19-0-5)
3. Berkeley (17-3-3)
4. San Ramon Valley (14-3-8)
5. California (15-3-6)
6. Richmond (15-1-10)
7. Granada (15-4-5)
8. Albany (23-0-3)
9. Dublin (19-3-2)
10. Acalanes (19-3-3)
11. Amador Valley (8-6-12)
12. Clayton Valley (17-4-3)
13. Castro Valley (17-4-4)
14. Newark Memorial (19-5-4)
15. Campolindo (13-9-4)

Others considered: Las Lomas (15-5-3), Ygnacio Valley (13-6-2), Deer Valley (11-7-6), Piedmont (16-5-3), Logan (14-10-4), College Park (12-8-5), Antioch (9-8-7), Liberty (8-6-7), Kennedy-Fremont (10-8-2), Dougherty Valley (10-9-3).

League standings

ACCAL
Team Overall League Points

Berkeley (17-3-3) 10-1-1 31
Richmond (15-1-10) 9-0-3 30
Alameda (6-12-4) 5-3-4 19
El Cerrito (7-10-1) 5-6-1 16
Pinole Valley (6-14-1) 4-8-0 12
De Anza (3-14-6) 1-8-3 6
Hercules (1-12-1) 1-10-1 4

BSAL
Team Overall League Points

Albany (23-0-3) 15-0-1 46
Piedmont (16-5-3) 12-3-1 37
Kennedy (13-10-2) 10-4-2 32
St. Mary’s (12-8-3) 10-4-2 32
Salesian (8-10-1) 8-7-1 25
Encinal (5-17-1) 5-10-1 16
Swett (4-13-0) 4-12-0 12
St. Joseph-Notre Dame (3-17-0) 3-13-0 9
St. Patrick-St. Vincent (1-16-0) 1-15-0 3

BVAL
Team Overall League Points

Antioch (9-8-7) 7-3-5 26
Deer Valley (11-7-6) 6-3-6 24
Liberty (8-6-7) 6-3-6 24
Freedom (10-6-6) 6-4-5 23
Pittsburg (6-13-4) 3-8-4 13
Hertiage (3-12-2) 3-10-2 11

DFAL
Team Overall League Points

Dublin (19-3-2) 8-2-2 26
Acalanes (19-3-3) 8-3-1 25
Las Lomas (15-5-3) 6-3-3 21
Dougherty Valley (10-9-3) 4-6-2 14
Campolindo (13-9-4) 4-6-2 14
Alhambra (6-7-5) 3-6-3 12
Miramonte (0-7-5) 0-7-5 5

DVAL
Team Overall League Points

Clayton Valley (17-4-3) 10-1-1 31
Ygnacio Valley (13-6-2) 8-3-1 25
College Park (12-8-5) 7-2-3 24
Concord (7-9-4) 7-3-2 23
Northgate (4-19-1) 3-9-0 9
Berean Christian (2-19-3) 1-9-2 5
Mt. Diablo (1-12-1) 1-10-1 4

EBAL
Team Overall League Points

De La Salle (16-5-3) 10-1-3 33
San Ramon Valley (14-3-8) 7-2-5 26
Granada (16-4-5) 7-3-4 25
California (15-3-6) 7-3-4 25
Amador Valley (8-6-12) 3-2-9 18
Monte Vista (5-13-5) 3-9-2 11
Livermore (3-12-2) 2-10-2 8
Foothill (5-13-5) 0-9-5 5

HAAL
Team Overall League Points

Bishop O’Dowd (19-0-5) 12-0-4 40
Castro Valley (17-4-4) 12-1-3 39
Arroyo (12-10-1) 9-6-1 28
Mt. Eden (11-10-1) 8-7-1 25
San Lorenzo (7-7-5) 5-6-5 20
Tennyson (4-8-5) 4-7-5 17
San Leandro (6-11-6) 4-9-3 15
Hayward (6-12-3) 3-10-3 12
Moreau Catholic (2-14-3) 1-12-3 6

MVAL
Team Overall League Points

Logan (14-10-4) 9-1-2 29
Newark Memorial (19-5-4) 8-1-3 27
Kennedy (10-8-2) 7-4-1 22
Mission San Jose (10-10-1) 6-6-0 18
Washington (4-13-2) 4-7-1 13
Irvington (6-12-3) 4-7-1 13
American (0-14-0) 0-12-0 0

Statistics

Here is the list of the players in the East Bay who are top ten in goals and assists.

Goals

Littleton, Piedmont 50
Borges, Albany 26
Tieku, El Cerrito 21
Ramirez, Albany 18
Chen, Las Lomas 17
Fuentes, Newark 17
Padilla, Clayton 17
Foster, Granada 16
Rietz, BOD 16
Menezes, Dougherty 15
Huang, Deer Valley 15
Weir, Dublin 15

Assists

Gomez, Clayton 24
Borges, Albany 22
Montes, Richmond 21
Thomas, Granada 17
Shiluck, Castro Valley 16
Lopez, YV 16
Swafford, BOD 13
Martin, Deer Valley 13
Sjogrell, SRV 12
Moar, DLS 10
Ornstil, BOD 10
Menezes, Dougherty 10
Arzate, Newark 10

Matt Smith