Clearly the most intertaining day of the three-day six-game SDS Semis, #1 Valhalla took on #5 Rancho Bernardo and #2 Ramona took on #3 Steele Canyon. The higher seeds won out, but it wasn’t until the very end of each contest that the final result was known. Neither game featured many counterattacks, as three of the four teams seemed to be sparing with their opponents.
The exception was Rancho Bernardo, who jumped to a 3-1 lead at half and 5-2 at the end of three periods based on great scoring efforts from Taylor Brown and Kiley Gansert, who had three goals each, and quick reacting saves in goal from senior Karen Chou, who had 14 blocks for the game. The only first half goal for Valhalla was a penalty score by sophomore Jasmine Miller, who also had a great defensive effort.
Early in the fourth quarter, Valhalla pressed the goalie; according to Coach Page Small, “We had to do something to keep the ball in our front court. Drawing the ejections for 6v5 was just what it took.” In that frame, Valhalla scored four of five with the extra player, primarily Colleen Ratliff shots off of assists from Roxy Herron. (Both ladies are juniors.)
Bernardo got back in the game with a senior sister pass from Anne-Marie Parkinson to her sophomore sister Hayley Parkinson, and then got a clean backhand goal from soph Zoe Brown.
What was cool was that Valhalla’s Herron scored an extra with :02 on the clock to salvage the tie in regulation and send the game to overtime. In OT, it was Valhalla senior Cortney Bayuk who scored the final two goals in the 9-8 (2OT) win, one with basically no time on the clock at the end of 1OT. Valhalla escaped and is back in the Final with a chance to exceed last year’s D-II Runner-up status. “Our top goalie, junior Lauren Adams, is out with pneumonia,” Coach Small said. “It was great that our backup, senior Christina Salazar, rose to the occasion to stop them in the end.”
The second game of the night was as classy as the first for intense competition. Ramona, the higher seed, entered its third CIF-SDS Semi-Final in a row. Coach Donnie Williams: “We were disappointed last year. Many of the girls have had a fever this week. I told them, ‘We’re going to face adversity all week.’ It was true. (Three girls had temps over 103 degrees.) Then, down 2-3 going into the second half, I told them, ‘keep up the pressure! Hold on!’ Then we made history — we’re the first Ramona team ever to make the CIF Finals!”
By the end, Ramona had erased the deficit and three goals each by Steele Canyon’s Hannah Neville and Autumn Schramm to win the game in regulation. Cassie Bernas scored three, two on counters, one assist from goalie Tiffany Larson, the other from Holly Smith. Smith tallied three for the game, the last two coming in the last two minutes from the left wing. At each of the last two time outs, one could hear the coughing, as the Ramona hardwork was taking its toll. According to defensive standout Jocelyn Schwegler, “Our Coach encouraged us, ‘Just make it!’ My thoughts, breathe…we can do this!” And they did — and their fans can breathe easier too that they’re in ‘THE FINAL’ for the first time ever!