NCS Finals Preview

I can’t believe the season is ending tomorrow. It’s been a great season, too bad it has to end.
Let’s dive right in…

Division I

The matchup: No. 1 De La Salle (17-5-3) v. No. 6 California (16-3-6), 7:30 p.m.

The storyline: The De La Salle soccer team is a machine. Since a not-so-good showing in San Diego in December, this team has gone 12-1-2. As far as North Coast Section dominance the last two years, there is no finer team than the Spartans. They come into this game as the clearcut favorite.
“What can I say about De La Salle?,” California coach Chris Faidley said. “They finish second nationally last year and follow that up with another EBAL title. Brian’s (Voltattorni) got them playing so well, they’ve coasted through the playoffs so far. We’ll have to play a terrific game, limit mistakes and take advantage of opportunities. If everyone loves an underdog, they’ve got one in Cal.”
According to nearly every single person on this blog, the Grizzlies have no chance. That is exactly gives them a chance. Cal is going to be fired up after a very big, emotional come-from-behind win on top of getting no respect. The Grizzlies are loose and ready to play.
“I love these boys,” Faidley said. “I told them today they are good for me. I’m always thinking “What’s next? What do we need to do now?” These guys can find a way to laugh and enjoy life in any situation. They’ve helped me to slow down and enjoy the ride, occasionally.”

Key matchups: The obvious matchup would be to choose Cal’s attacking mid, Guillermo Rivas, against De La Salle’s center mid, in Wesley Moar. Clearly two of the best players in the East Bay. The players I will keep my eye on will be Cal’s Andrew Noble and Andre Rawls, and De La Salle’s Justin Howard and J.T. Tallarman.
Noble will need to spearhead a defense that had a couple of mental lapses against San Ramon Valley. Rawls, a very good keeper, is the reason that Cal was only facing a 3-0 deficit instead of a 5-0, or 6-0 hole on Wednesday.
Noble, Rawls and the rest of the Cal back line will have their hands full against the very talented Howard and Tallarman.

Division II

The matchup: No. 1 Bishop O’Dowd (20-0-5) v. No. 3 Dublin (19-3-3), 2:30 p.m.

The storyline: Only rivaled by De La Salle in NCS dominance, the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons have been the premier Division II team in the East Bay, and have been thoroughly dominant for the last two seasons, going 41-2-9. They are back in the Division II finals and looking to avenge last year’s loss to Acalanes in penalty kicks.
“They are very disciplined,” Dublin coach James Fulwiler said. “They aren’t purely an offensive team or a defensive team. They are balanced, and they play structured soccer. Our styles of play are actually very similar.”
So what’s the key difference between the two teams?
“They are absolutely huge,” Fulwiler said. “I need to get my boys not to be intimidated by their size.”
The Dragons know where the advantage lies as well.
“I think we match up with size,” Bishop O’Dowd coach Peter Belanger said. “I think the game could possibly come down to set pieces. We scored two goals on Acalanes, the first time anyone has scored two on them all year, when everyone said that we wouldn’t.”
There is another difference between the two teams. O’Dowd is used to being on this stage. This is a season of first’s for Dublin, including this first trip to the finals. But the Gaels are ready.
“We celebrated a little after Albany, but on Thursday there was no more time for celebration,” Fulwiler said. “We have to go through our second consecutive undefeated team if we want to win this championship.”

Key matchups: Jamie Somerville v. Charlie Ranahan in the middle would have been a great matchup, but unfortunately Ranahan, probably O’Dowd’s heart and soul, suffered a season-ending knee injury against Acalanes. The Dragons will have to adjust without the motor that makes them go.
“With Charlie out of the middle we’ll simply do the best we can,” Belanger said. “We’ve endured many things this year as a team and I think because of that we are stronger collectively.”
So where can O’Dowd make up for it? Well, it’s his twin brother, Drew Ranahan. The Dragons sweeper will be instrumental in locking down Dublin forwards Cody Hoster and Trevor Weir.
On the other end, with Max Ornstil, Taylor Reitz and Carson Swafford being extremely aggressive, Dublin’s sophomore sweeper, Oliver Castillo, will be relied upon a lot.
“He’s had a phenomenal NCS playoff run,” Fulwiler said. “Against Albany, anytime the runner’s came at him, he just kept shutting them down.”

Matt Smith

  • The Sweeper

    CV up 2-1 on 2 direct free kicks

  • The Truth

    Tack- 3 losses of which two were to Las Lomas; I would say you had a good year perhaps even a great year.Welcome to the DFAL champions club that has dominated NCS in D2. Perhaps a thought to share; your joy is understandable and Bboy is a bit more than ungracious however you should have some respect for the one team you couldn’t handle this year. But hey,congratulations on the win. It wasn’t pretty but you pulled it out.Way to go….

  • The Sweeper

    CV wins 2-1 congrats

  • Creatability

    Bboy is cracking me up. First “LL” had every opportunity that Dublin did, but they didn’t rise to the occassion to enough about LL. Hats off to Bishop who played a heck of a game today. As a fan it was amazing to watch the battle between these two outstanding teams. Congrats to Bishop on their great season. Way to go Dublin Gaels. Thank you for bringing the NCS Championship Title to our home. I will never forget the skill, heart and determination you have exhibited throughout the year. You should all be very proud of what you have accomplished. I for one will never forget this magical season. GO GAELS!!!

  • outsider

    any updates on the cal dls game? how’s it looking so far?

  • Matt Smith

    DLS v. Cal is about 15 minutes away.
    I got to meet Tack and The Sweeper today. It was awesome.

  • Captain

    im the captain at Las Lomas and ive read the posts recently, i just want to congratulate Dublin on their First NCS title. i cant front you guys are a good team and we’ve had great games playing you. it was a great season for DFAL.

    Thanks Matt you’ve kept the blog so alive and busy. i think this year has been one of the most competitive if not the most in the past few years.

    Congrats to bishop as well on a great season.

  • Captain

    – #3

  • S. FAN

    Castro Valley Girls showe class and passion with an awsome win…Congratulations ladies!!!

  • 925

    good championship win for the NCS. shows it’s not the haves and have nots. CV has done it and not only that got past the semis for their first time since SR’s reign. My only thought is the Castains are seniors so they really went out with a bang. However what will this mean for next year, already thinking about next year let’s hope they can repeat! also you never know how SR comes back next season either… I presume silver ain’t bad after 4 years of gold either 😉

  • Matt

    Any score yet?

  • S. FAN

    The Castain’s are just the start of a great program. Lot’s of talent coming back but yes, the Castain’s are special a long with Bunny Maes. Good luck at Wash St. to all three.

  • Shutyomouth

    #29 Grownupsoccerfan
    What you should know is that Dublin applied to host the Championship game. Your BOD AD never applied to host, they assumed Dublin would never make the finals. If you have an issue with Dublin talk to your AD.

    As for the game tonight the Dublin fans packed the stands in a sea of RED. The fans were respectful and quite loud. Much louder than the BOD side. Your assumption that Dublin fans are toddlers, and would lack dignity just shows your ignorance.

    You came to a state of the art facilty, were outcheered by the Dublin fans, and you lost.

    Oh by the way – the fee to attend Dublin is $0.

  • Matt Smith

    0-0 about 20 to go.

  • S. FAN

    Sweeper, where do you get two direct free kicks for CV. Castain scored the first one on a break away.

  • FlyingHigh

    #63: Couldn’t have said it better. So “Shutyomouth” unbelievers.

  • grownupsoccerfan

    #63 Shutyomouth:

    Congratulations to Dublin. I applaud your victory. I didn’t assume anything, I was responding to “Tack,” and hoping that he was simply full of hot air.

    The “Sea of Red” was dramatic and well noted. I found one of the highlights of the game to be when one of your players assisted one of our players on the field with a severe cramp.

    And, “oh, by the way,” I’ll ignore the rest of your nastiness.

    Congratulations to the Gaels. Job well done.

  • defense_mom

    Congrats to Dublin my Santos boys shined today go Nico and Jaime…. so proud of them and their team. A night they will remember for the rest of thier lives!!

  • defense_mom

    any score for cal and dls??

  • The Sweeper

    S.Fan, you are correct. I just remember her firing uncontestd from about 28 yards out. It was a beautiful blast.

    Again, congrats to CV for an unbeaten NCS championship season. Now you can brag.

  • Matt Smith

    1-0 DLS at half.

  • The Sweeper

    DLS scored on what looked like a defensive mistake by Cal on a free kick from about 45 yards out.

    1-0 @ start of H2.

  • Coach James

    All – My first post on this blog, but I wanted to make some statements for all.

    DFAL Teams – Every team that we faced this year in DFAL is incredibly talented. LL, Acalanes, DV, Campo, Alhambra, Miramonte, are all well coached, and have players that are amazing. In All of the games we played against these teams, they displayed a huge amount of character. Never had fights, dirty play or issues. You are all awesome, and we are proud to be a member of the DFAL league. On any given night any team can win, I think we can all agree on this.

    Playoffs – St Marys played very disciplined soccer. A classy team, a hard playing team, and a good coach.
    Ygnacio Valley was one of the most dynamic offensive teams we faced this year. Those boys could run like the wind and they had great technical skills. The captains on this team showed a lot of class and never gave up. I would coach them any day.
    Albany – They are everything you have heard. They can play in any league, they can beat any team, and the technical skills exhibited by these players were amazing. I have read the comments about their schedule but make no mistake they are that good. A lot of character was shown after this game. They shook hands and stood proud of their accomplishments. Just an amazing team.
    BOD – Big, Strong well coached by Coach Peter. These kids played hard tonight, and it is sad that someone has to lose. I have much respect for this team and the coaches. They play amazing soccer and never played dirty. We knew we had to play mistake free defense to have any chance against them.

    Dublin – Thank you parents, friends, fans, and faculty. Your support and belief in our boys was amazing. You never gave up hope on us. It has been a great year, and your unconditional support has meant the world to us. Our seniors will always remember this year thanks to you. Go Gaels!!!

  • SoccerFan

    any final score?

  • thereporter

    who scored the goal?

  • SoccerFan

    DLS is hard to beat at the start of the game, let alone leading 1-0 going into the 2nd half. If anyone could post the result of the game, that would be awesome as not all of us were lucky enough to be able to attend the game.

    Matt, thank you for all your hard work this season. This notebook has been a great opportunity for creative discussion. I look forward to it for next year.

  • Tack

    De La Salle 1, Cal 0


  • yamon

    1 0 De La Salle over Cal

    Cal had 3-4 shots right at the goal that they missed on the last possession. Great game, congrats to De La Salle

  • The Truth

    BTW- who are the Santos? Drinkin Mom keeps refering to them like that means meaningful or relevant?? WTF..

  • yamon

    the Santos is the club team that a lot of the EBAL players around the league play for.

  • Sporting Player

    Is the Santos any good?

  • defense_mom

    Keep it clean The Truth Says!! sounds a bit inmature to me. This website is for all of us to give props to the teams and the players.

  • ebal fan

    Congrats to DLS!

    Sweeper and mostly everyone on this blog gave Cal no shot, DLS dominates first half with Cal having a few chances, but the second half was all Cal, you have to give it to them, they had 4 clear chances with one going off the post, they gave it their everything and should be respected for that. DLS showed the heart of a champion holding on and Cal by never quitting. Once again, DLS defensively stays tight and compact, Rivas and Moar battle all game, both players in my opinion should be all east bay, I don’t know who picks that though

  • The Sweeper

    Santos was Pele’s original professional team in Brazil where he started playing at 15. A fitting name for a team of high achievers.

    I was indeed a great 2010 NCS winter soccer season and championship playoffs. Congratulations to today’s champions. I hope the NCS sticks with the quadruple header format.

    Thanks again to Matt Smith for his diligence and soccer knowledge, with far and away the most popular blog following for local high school sports. Cheers.

  • Rory Gentry

    Congratulations to De La Salle and their 1-0 win over California and their repeat as NCS Division 1 Champions.
    I would like to take this time to thank and congratulate the players and coaches at Clayton Valley for being DVAL Champions and for being Quarterfinalists in this year’s NCS playoffs. From winning just one game two years ago to being league champions is a great accomplishment and the start of big things to come. I am so proud to be an Eagle and am excited to build on this year’s strong showing.

  • Matt Smith

    I just want to say thank you to everyone this year. You guys have made this a wonderful season. I’m sad it’s over.
    Today was very cool. I got to talk to a lot of players, who knew who I was without me having to say anything, I got to meet some of my most dedicated followers and I got to see some great soccer.
    I also want to apologize to De La Salle and Cal players, coaches and fans. The game ended really close to my deadline, so my story that will be in Sunday’s paper on that game is not my best work. It was rushed, I don’t feel like it flowed well and I didn’t get to use all my quotes. I will do an expanded version when I put the final rankings up either tomorrow night or Monday.
    Thanks again everyone.

  • Scoreboard

    Thanks Matt..ur the man. Look forward to next year!

  • ManO’War

    2 cents, tough call but I give MVP of that game to Austin Rogers, the GK’r for DLS. Good midfield battle, for sure, though if you count the number of turnovers you’d have to take your shoes off about 40 times (but most from FB’s?). DLS pulled back a lot to try to hold that lead, it seemed, and were not as aggressive to the ball all game as Volpe/Leidheisl et al for Cal; if not for Rogers consistent focused play, game gets tied at some point. Rawls spectacular in early flurry, and rest of game really too. DiBernardi great in setting things up, moving around when necessary, etc., complementing Moar. Good game by E Anderson for Cal, lots of touches on the ball, created attack opportunities. Denmark for Cal couple great crosses for most dangerous chances but then pulled(?). DLS seemed to swarm lightly on Rivas as he found his way closer to the goal, but well-done, always had extra eye going. More 2 cents, only opinion, Cal needed Whip Kelly (scored v. SRV) for more offense but brought him in too late even though 13, 14 good. J Howard usual good tough game also. Cal can be proud, no Noble, etc., and still almost tied it in intense flurries towards end. Again, Rogers man of the match in my opinion, even though not too much work in first half; whoever thought he was “too small” was wrong (see last sequence with 4 minutes left as example). Free kicks here all pretty good, crowd OK, ref seemed very very good job – at least game was controlled, and evenly called, even if stopped too much, too long perhaps? All in all, though, great final, well worth the ticket price! Great job by all. Matt rocks too.

  • trusoccerfan

    rodgers does not deserve mvp of the game. he did play good but also got quite lucky. man of match would have to go to decosta. he truly shut down the cal attack.

  • ManO’War

    Actually 85, “Lucky” in GK’ing is also superior positioning, read of the game, anticipation, getting close enough to any action in front of the goal to stop it just enough that it gets stopped. On the spot is not ‘lucky’ all the time. He was spot-on, top grade on all those, dives and puches too. DeCosta good, yes, but DLS on heels too much particularly second half, somewhat due to not as aggressive as usual. Sweeney great too, but I still give it to GK for those reasons. All opinions.

  • SoccerAR

    Matt – Will you be realeasing the final computer rankings as well?

  • ebal fan

    Matt and Sweeper, I would love to hear both of your takes on the DLS Cal game last night.

  • Matt Smith

    One of our fans that comments does the computer rankings, so I don’t know if he’ll do them again. I haven’t heard from him in a while…
    As far as De La Salle v. Cal match, this is what I think. DLS came out like gangbusters and for the first 10-15 minutes, Cal was just trying to hold it together. DLS could have scored 2-3 times in that first 15 minutes. Cal started to get a little more organized after that, and then actually started to put together some chances. The rest of the first half was pretty even. The second half was really dominated by Cal. Even the DLS players said afterwards that Cal came out firing and they were happy that they held them off.
    The one goal came on a very nice free kick by Anthony DeCosta, but I think Cal feels that it shouldn’t have happened. Things kinda became a mess in front of the net and the ball keep floating.
    Well played game, that’s for sure, and a heck of a dog fight. Very impressed with DLS this season. They took everyone’s best shot all year long.

  • Matt

    Will you also get to the all league results? I think you said some leagues had not got their results in yet.

  • Matt Smith

    I am still waiting on the DVAL, EBAL and HAAL.

  • ebal fan

    Matt well said, very impressed with DLS, they held it off unlike SRV did. I was very impressed with Cal even with their defeat, the boys put it on the line, nobody gave them a shot and I feel like they went home thinking they deserved to win the game.

  • Prep Fan

    Cal sure lost without Noble..where’s EBAL gonna be next year? DLS again all the way

  • Turbo

    Because all of the semifinal games were held at the same time, I couldn’t be at the SRV/Cal game. Reading about it, I really wanted to see them play DLS but I felt there was little chance they would be able to put back-to-back emotionally fueled games together. Was I wrong! They played with everything they had. If the injury time out hadn’t occurred, they’d have kept up their flurry of emotion and will, with an excellent chance the ball would have eventually broken through. And that’s not to take anything away from DLS. These were two excellent teams playing great ball. Terrific to see! Speaking of which, maybe the game start times could be staggered next year? Most players play on club teams with teammates on different high school teams. There were a number of games I would like to have attended. The NCS could increase their gate with staggered starts and be able to afford a fourth much-needed ref at semifinal games. While I am making suggestions for improvements, I would also like to see semifinals and finals held only on fields that provide seating on two sides of the field. Sorry to say, but games are often marred by nasty spectators. It is a very unpleasant experience in mixed stands.

  • trusoccerfan

    ManO’War- It is definitaly opinion. Everyone is intitled to their own. Either way, DLS had an all-star line up which would make it hard for anyone to beat them. I believe the best final would have been SRV vs. DLS but unfortunatly they couldn’t make it past Cal. Credit of course to Cal for the win, whether bad reffing or hard play, they still got the win. Thats all that matters in the end right?

  • u-mustbeinsane

    #86 (Man)
    I agree with everything you stated about effective GKing; however, I did not see all that much of it from Rogers last night. To be certain, he did make a few excellent saves and he is very sound in goal. Big props to him. However, if it wasn’t for DLS stacking the goal line with defenders who were the true deflectors of most of the shots on goal Cal, could potentially have scored several times.

    Defenders blocked at least 3 shots off the line and headed away countless others. For that reason my MVP choice does not go to Rogers but goes to the DLS guy who put his body on the Cal keeper to create the goal opportunity. Without that contact we would still be shooting PKs.