The best soccer season in Diablo Valley College history will be extending into a month most associated with thick coats, slick streets, and ski trips, but the Vikings aren't complaining.
It's really kind of cool.
DVC (17-1-6), the No. 1 seed from the North, will meet South No. 2 Santa Barbara in the semifinals of the CCCAA Women's State Soccer Championships at 7 p.m. Friday at Ventura College. The winner will face either South No. 1 Cerritos or North No. 2 Folsom Lake in Sunday's state final at 2 p.m.
It's an exciting time for the Vikings. Here it is after Thanksgiving, and they're still carving out results.
"I know," a grinning DVC coach Cailin Mullins said Monday. "We made that comment at practice today: 'Soccer in December, that's pretty exciting.' It was definitely chilly out there today. … It's neat. It's a different feeling, for sure. It makes it a little more special."
Clearly, Mullins' impeccably balanced team is playing well at a great time, which helps the players handle the newness of it all. True, the program has never been here before, but things can change rapidly in community college sports if the right bunch comes along.
"We feel like we've been playing very well on both sides of the ball," Mullins said in anticipation of the Santa Barbara game. "From what I've looked at them so far, their stats and whatnot, I feel like it will be a good matchup for us. They seem to be along the lines of a Big 8 team, so we know it will be a good, competitive game.
"They've got some talented kids that can play soccer," she continued, "and we just have to make sure that we keep doing the things we've been doing these last few games. Without a doubt, we're peaking at the right time, and they clearly are as well."
Battle-tested DVC, after earning its first Big 8 Conference title, swept three opponents in the playoffs as Noelle Lemos pumped in six goals, giving her 19 for the season. DVC beat Solano 6-1, Las Positas 4-0 and Big 8-rival San Joaquin Delta in a 1-0 thriller on a 79th-minute goal by Lemos.
"What I was so proud of was their concentration and just consistency in play for the 90 minutes," Mullins said of the historic win over Delta. "Delta is probably one of the toughest matchups for us. They have very fast, strong forwards that are difficult to contain. It was gonna take players not making mistakes and being careful with the ball and being assertive, and they did all of that for 90 minutes."
The Vikings feature a trio of CCCSCA All-Region players, Lemos of Benicia; defender Deiziana Dargan of Northgate; and goalkeeper Katie McLaughlin of College Park. McLaughlin, who has 12 shutouts this season and a fine 0.48 goals-against average (No. 6 in the state), commanded the box against Delta. She had two clutch saves late to preserve the victory, one on a looping ball and another on a well-struck blast when her positioning was perfect.
In the first half, McLaughlin kept the defense organized with her leadership.
Vanessa Ruvalcaba, a freshman midfielder out of Pittsburg, has had a sensational season attacking and defending, notching 10 goals and six assists.
Now all Vikings' eyes are turning to Southern California.
Cerritos (21-1-1), the four-time defending champion with six titles overall, is the heavy favorite, but DVC is alive and kicking in December. What a season it's been.
Live Video of the game can be found at https://youtu.be/u70_AbPkEsw
Live Audio of the game by Viking Joe: http://mixlr.com/vikings-soccer-realtime/
- Matt Schwab