Cabrillo’s women’s football wins in shootout, advances to playoffs for first time since 2005 – Santa Cruz Sentinel
APTOS – After 120 minutes of physically grueling play, the Cabrillo College women’s football team dived into their tank and sprinted 50 yards to crush goalkeeper Jessica Zavala. Reservists flocked from the sidelines to join in the fun, as the local audience celebrated. Zavala deserved this.
The first year, a Watsonville High alumna, survived a brutal crash that knocked Taft’s Juliet Garcia down in the second of two mandatory 15-minute overtime. The extra periods gave the same result as the 90 minute routine – nothing.
The scoreless affair ended in shots on goal and five more kickers were needed as Cabrillo won 8-7 to advance to the first round of the CCAA NorCal playoffs under a full moon Saturday night.
Zavala, who made a full extension, diving with two minutes left in second overtime, finished with 12 saves. Thirteen if you count his block in the shootout. She also got her hands on three other balls that slipped into the net during the penalty shoot-out.
“She, as always, had an amazing game,” said teammate Caroline Sullivan, a midfielder. “She never fails. She really went out today and gave it all she had. “Player of the game,” I would say. For sure.”
Zavala threw her hands in the air when Taft’s Heaven Mejia sent PK high at her. He touched the crossbar of the football goal post, one foot above the football crossbar. With outstretched arms, Zavala ran towards her teammates and they formed a leaping mass of joy before collapsing with a grin from ear to ear, her stunned teammates falling on her.
“Once I saw him pass and my teammates running, I knew we had passed,” said Zavala. “And that was awesome.”
There were reasons for such a celebration. It was Cabrillo’s first playoff victory since Nov. 19, 2005, when he held the No. 11 seed and beat No. 6 Santa Rosa 2-1.
The No.6 Seahawks (10-2-5), making their first playoff appearance since 2014, face No.3 Sierra (15-3-1) in the second round Tuesday at Rocklin. Cabrillo will try to pass the second round for the first time in the history of the school. The playing time is to be determined.
The Wolverines, San Joaquin Delta finalists in the Big 8 Conference, beat No.14 Modesto 3-1 in the first round on Saturday.
No.11 Taft, third in the Central Valley Conference, sees his season end at 15-5-1.
“Without any disrespect, I thought we got the better of them, sometimes dominated,” Cougars coach Angelo Cutrona said. “At least I feel like we executed our game plan and got better shots from it.”
Cabrillo’s success is a tribute to local youth and talent. Eighteen of the 22 players on his roster are from Santa Cruz County and only four are in sophomores.
“We have a very young team,” said Gladys Mondragon, coach of the Seahawks. “They worked so hard all along. They have developed very well and have grown as a team. And that’s the result of that.
Zavala also made a save on a clear attempt from his defense which turned back towards Cabrillo’s goal. If she had focused elsewhere, it would have been a self-imposed goal and a dagger for the Seahawks’ season.
The Seahawks, the first team in school history to finish the Coastal Conference game undefeated, only managed three shots on goal. But they were called in during the shootout, scoring goals from Madelyn Park, Jasmine Taylor, Rachel Perez, No.20, Sullivan, Aubrey Westjohn, Jennifer Limon and Madison Corona.
Cabrillo collected a few corners early in settlement with Elyanna Magdaleno racing on the left sideline and Limon doing the same on the right side. But neither has brought a finish.
Magdaleno came out at the end of the first half and never returned due to a possible head injury and Limon was slowed down by an ankle which left her limping throughout the game. This left Westjohn as the lone striker, with midfielder Ashley Haduca joining in the occasional attacks.
“We have very good forwards,” Zavala said. “Honestly, I thought we would get a ball. We had a few shots, but unfortunately they didn’t get in. During the game, I thought that each team was a lot on each side. So I thought it was a close game. I didn’t think it would go to the PKs, but it happened.
The Seahawks’ best scoring opportunities in regulation time came from free kicks, no matter how far away from Taft’s goal. Cabrillo pieced together her best streak on a streak in first overtime, but Sullivan’s finishing touch sailed high, as she collided with Taft goalkeeper Natalia Navarro.
Cutrona put Jennifer Vera on the goalie to start the shootout and she faced five kickers, before Navarro returned and faced the last five kickers.
After Cabrillo’s pile of dogs was cleaned up, Zavala immediately found Navarro comforting her with a long hug. Several other Seahawks followed suit, as they sought out tear-eyed Taft players and congratulated them on their strong performance and a memorable battle.
Cabrillo 0, Taft 0; 2 additional hours
(Seahawks win 8-7 on PKs)
Following: NorCal playoffs, second round, Cabrillo # 6 to Sierra # 3
When: Tuesday, time to be confirmed
Or: Sierra College, Rocklin