SAN DIEGO — From the start, it seemed almost certain that top-seeded Torrey Pines and second-seeded Bonita Vista would meet today at 5 p.m. in the San Diego Section girls' 3-A soccer championship at Torrey Pines High.
The pairing for Saturday's 2-A championship was less predictable. Top-seeded San Pasqual (22-4-1), a four-time defending champion seemed a lock. But its opponent, unseeded USDHS (14-6-4), defeated No. 2 Valhalla in the quarterfinals and unseeded Ramona, 2-1 in overtime, in the semifinals to advance.
USDHS hasn't played for the championship since 1987, when it lost to San Pasqual in a repeat of the previous year, 2-1 in overtime.
The 3-A finalists met in the 1988 title game, a 2-1 Torrey Pines victory. Torrey Pines (21-0-4) has been a power through the years, winning championships in 1982-85 and tying Poway, 1-1, in the final last year.
Bonita Vista (26-1-2) has beaten Torrey Pines just once in nine years and suffered its only loss, 3-0, to the Falcons in the final of the Bonita Vista Tournament.
It was the only time the Barons allowed as many as three goals in a game this year; they have outscored opponents, 160-6. The section record for fewest goals allowed is eight by Bonita Vista (1988 and 1989) and San Pasqual (1989).
Shutouts are common in soccer and even more common for Bonita
Vista. The Barons have 16 in a row, tying a national record they set last year. Goalkeeper Amy Goodwin has 58 career shutouts, a national record.
A contributor to Goodwin's success as a goalkeeper, she said, is the time she spends on her club team as a defender.
"It helps me as a defender because I know what the goalkeeper is thinking and it helps me as a goalkeeper because I know what the defender is thinking," said Goodwin, who will be featured on ESPN's Scholastic Sports America this month.
Goodwin, who began playing soccer at the age of five, has been involved with the U.S. Olympic Development Program and made the western regional player pool (30 of the top western players). She has made a verbal commitment to play at the UC Santa Barbara.
"She's a tough kid," Bonita Vista Coach Ron Pietila said. "She puts in time and effort and works hard."
Offensively, Bonita Vista is led by sophomore forward Jennifer Ewert, who has scored 31 goals this year. Jennifer Lalor has scored 19 and leads the team with 23 assists.
The Falcons perform best under pressure, Coach Dennis Costello says, and because of their experience, sometimes emotion is enough.
Torrey Pines' 1-0 overtime victory over San Dieguito in the semifinals was "very emotional," Costello said, because the teams' players are members of the same club teams.
"The girls are very competitive with San Dieguito," Costello said. "We threw format to the wind. They played all on emotion."
The Falcons are led by senior forward Danielle Napoli, who has scored 30 goals. She had the same number as a junior and has been "pretty consistent," Costello said.
Layla Nassiroghli has 12 assists.
Goalkeeper Kyla Schmedding, a midfielder last year, has 19 shutouts.
If San Pasqual Coach Bill Bullock knew why his team has had continued success, he'd "bottle it and sell it." Bullock says it is a combination of the school's athletic program, the athletes and the team's style of play.
"The San Pasqual girls' program is excellent in all sports," Bullock said. "There is a great pool of athletes, and the coaches share. Athletics are a source of pride at San Pasqual."
He added: "We have a style of play that everyone can play and all can make contributions, too. We don't rely on just two or three players."
The San Pasqual coaches run their own club program during the summer, and although it's not mandatory, most of the players participate.
Sophomore Shannon MacMillan has 24 goals and 12 assists and senior Monica Degn has 23 goals and eight assists. Goalkeeper Susie Esposito was moved from forward last year. She shares the goal with Tracy Brown. Between them, they have 18 shutouts.
Susie's identical twin, Stacy, is the sweeper.
"It sounds funny to hear the announcer say the ball is passed from Esposito to Esposito," Bullock said.
USDHS Coach Butch Lee had to adjust his style this year, but whatever he did seemed to work.
"We started out with 24 kids, four at the highest level, 20 at the lowest level, " Lee said. "We tried some intense practices, but at the high school level, some players just couldn't grasp it, and we started getting into trouble in games. So we lowered the level of play to their level and began winning games. It's not pretty soccer, but when you pick up the paper the next day ,it's a 'W'."
Lee said that one disadvantage he has is that his players are spread over 15 club teams in the off-season. Girls on teams such as San Pasqual, Torrey Pines and Bonita Vista are on the same clubs so they are used to playing together when the high school season begins.
Surprisingly, Lee says he is glad to be playing San Pasqual.
"Bullock has a fine team," Lee said. "They are the class team of 2-A soccer. The match-up isn't very good, but we'll be there, and we'll play hard."