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.
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.