After the Diablo Valley women's soccer team had clinched its first Big 8 Conference title, the Vikings adopted a new motto: "8 and State."
Well, after a 2-0 win over Santa Barbara in the CCCAA State semifinals Friday night at Ventura College, the Vikings moved one win away from making one of the biggest statements in DVC history.
The Vikings (18-1-6) will meet four-time defending champion Cerritos (22-1-1) in the state championship game at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Cerritos, which bested Folsom Lake 3-2 in the semifinals, represents a massive challenge, but nothing seems to faze these upstart Vikings, who are seeking their first state crown.
"They're incredibly talented with fantastic athletes and soccer players that we're going to have to work hard to contain," Mullins said of Cerritos.
She noted that the Vikings have had success against opponents with similarly explosive athletic styles, such as Santa Barbara.
Friday night's historic win featured second-half goals by Cameron Chan and Karla Ramos and a polished, well-rounded team effort. Mullins, the CCCAA North Region Coach of the Year, agreed that the win produced a surreal feeling.
"It's something you don't really prepare for," Mullins said. "You're in the moment. It's the emotions; you just experience them as they come. The team has a tremendous amount of pride and joy in the moment. As a coaching staff, we're just incredibly proud of them and the effort that they've put forth."
After scoreless first half, the Vikings began to find standout target forward Noelle Lemos, who delivered a commanding performance under the lights. After Lemos had made a patented turn under pressure on the left, she crossed the ball, and Chan headed it into the corner in the 62nd minute to break a 0-0 tie. Ramos, who played brilliantly on the left all night, seized on a loose ball in the middle and added the dagger goal in the 83rd minute.
All Regional goalkeeper Katie McLaughlin looked the part with six saves. She was critical in the final stages of the first half with speedy Santa Barbara really asserting itself against DVC's possession style.
What a dream season it's been for the Vikings, who beat Solano 6-1, Las Positas 4-0 and San Joaquin Delta 1-0 in the first three rounds of the playoffs. The underrated back line has been superb.
The Vikings may be without Ale Gonzalez in the final after an enduring scary collision Friday night.
Mullins takes special pride in being able to follow a hard-fought win over San Joaquin Delta in Round 3 with another win over a highly dangerous opponent.
"They've put together two fantastic efforts to get some incredible results," Mullins said proudly of the team.
Now it's down to one game for these hearty Vikings explorers. They have the '8' in hand, with 'State' in mind.
-- Matt Schwab