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NCS girls soccer early look

Here are the links to the NCS Division I and Division II soccer brackets, which were announced today. The tournament kicks off Wednesday night with the quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 16.

http://cifncs.org/sports/soccer/files/RESULTS/Winter%202013/girlsD1BRACKET13winsoc.pdf

http://cifncs.org/sports/soccer/files/RESULTS/Winter%202013/girlsD2BRACKET13winsoc.pdf

I’ve decided not to pick every game but will share some observations.

Division II: Defending champion Bishop O’Dowd looks to have clear sailing to the championship round, with a deep and talented roster. The Dragons recently celebrated the return of the 2012 state player of the year Ryan Walker-Hartshorn. DFAL teams, which wallop each other throughout the regular season, tend to excel in NCS, when their true quality is revealed.

Interesting possible matchup: Assuming they get through the first round, I’d like to see Ygnacio Valley against No. 2 seed and DFAL champion Campolindo in the quarters.

Predicted championship final: Bishop O’Dowd 3, Campolindo 0.

Sleeper team: Ygnacio Valley.

Amazing athlete: Megan Reid, Miramonte’s two-sport winter star who also plays on the powerhouse basketball team. She dribbles with aplomb with hands and feet.

Division I: Top seed San Ramon Valley is looking for the clean sweep after winning the Tri-Valley Classic and EBAL championships. The Wolves came just short of winning all three tournaments last season, when they dropped a 1-0 decision against rival Monte Vista in the section final. The No. 2 seeded Mustangs looked sharp in a 0-0 draw against the Wolves on Thursday. The Mustangs been battling injuries all season. But what was apparent in the match with San Ramon Valley: The Mustangs’ subs play a lot like the starters.  If Monte Vista gets past its first two opponents, the Mustangs’ terrific defense could meet a high-powered Berkeley attack in the semifinals. But the Yellowjackets must show they can win in the postseason after some early exits.

Interesting first-rounder I: Amador Valley, the fifth seed, against very physical Freedom, the 12th seed. The Dons will have a tough road. Should they survive the Falcons, they stand to face Castro Valley and then San Ramon Valley in the next two rounds, should the seeds hold up.

Interesting first-rounders II and III: Washington at Foothill: Huskies try to regain their mojo after a few late missteps when they face the improving EBAL upstarts; California at Logan (on the tough turf). Colts are peaking and have perhaps their best player back after she missed time for academic reasons. Grizzlies have a great goalkeeper in Lauren Holden and a brilliant playmaker in Rachel Feldman. Cal is also playing well down the stretch — a forte of coach Lee Munson’s teams. Should be a good one.

Interesting first-rounder IV: Heritage at College Park. Patriots have skill and a proven tract record, and College Park should benefit from facing a tough nonleague schedule and its seasoning in last year’s playoffs.

Championship final prediction: San Ramon Valley 1, Monte Vista 0.

Sleeper team: Foothill

She’s a keeper: Amador Valley goalkeep Lexi Nicholas.

Pleasanton prosperity: Pleasanton soccer is on the rebound. The Foothill and Amador Valley boys and girls teams all advanced to the NCS Division I playoffs. Nice to see. Last season only Amador Valley’s boys team made the postseason among the four Pleasanton varsity squads.

Matt Schwab