East Bay Athletic League girls soccer teams looked pretty balanced on opening night Tuesday, with San Ramon Valley a cut above.
Overall, the league is largely unproven at the striker position and young, with Monte Vista probably the most youthful of all with nine freshmen starters.
The unbeaten Wolves took a 1-0 win over pesky California on a brilliant goal by SRV newcomer Melissa Lewis, a transfer from Monte Vista. After Cal failed to clear a ball on a set piece in the 41st minute, Lewis made a quick turn from near the top corner of the penalty box and booted a ball into the net.
Overall, San Ramon Valley (4-0, 1-0) has outscored four opponents a combined 18-0, also including wins over Newark Memorial (9-0), Logan (6-0) and Castro Valley (2-0).
The Wolves boast eight or nine players who are headed to Division I schools. Among the commits are Reilly Parker (North Carolina), Amanda Davis (Pepperdine), goalkeeper Beth Ritter (UC Santa Barbara) and Shannon Hennessy (Penn).
Imposing California goalkeeper Lauren Holden made 13 big saves against the Wolves, including one showstopper that had everyone talking.
The Grizzlies always seem to play the Wolves tough. The teams split league games last year, a year after San Ramon Valley beat the Grizzlies 1-0 and tied them 1-1.
Granada had an eye-catching 3-0 win over Foothill.
Monte Vista’s youth movement was in full force in a come-from-behind 1-1 draw with upstart Livermore. The Cowboys may have one of the EBAL’s more seasoned, and improved, sides with 11 juniors and three seniors.
New-look Carondelet, replacing 11 seniors from last year’s NCS championship squad, opened with a 1-0 win over Amador Valley. The Dons are guided by their new coach, Tim Gray.
The Cougars feature center backs Cassidy Nicks and Ashley Christensen, and senior striker Meggi Fisher is a key target player.
How far the Cougars go may hinge on how quickly all the newbies adjust to the speed of varsity competition.
“I don’t see any easy games for us,” Carondelet coach Rick Morin said of EBAL competition. “We’re going to have to battle every game, in the front, back, and middle, attacking-wise and defensive-wise.”
SCORES THAT CAUGHT MY EYE: Liberty 2, Berkeley 2; Heritage 1, Dougherty Valley 0; Clayton Valley 1, California 0; Dublin 1, Dougherty Valley 0; College Park 1, Campolindo 0; Livermore 1, Monte Vista 1; Granada 3, Foothill 0.
East Bay Girls Soccer Rankings (subjective):
As of Dec. 14, 2011
1, San Ramon Valley
2, Bishop O’Dowd
6, Clayton Valley
7, Monte Vista
10, Dougherty Valley
11, Castro Valley
Also included (in alphabetical order): Albany, Amador Valley, College Park, Foothill, Freedom, Irvington, Miramonte, Piedmont, St. Mary’s, Ygnacio Valley.
NOTE TO READERS: Rankings are based on results in key games, observation, information, and gut instinct. Coaches, serious fans and players should feel free to chime in with their thoughts on the state of the game, notable players, overlooked teams, hot-button issues, etc.