The DVC women’s soccer team saw its thrill-ride of a season finally end with a 2-0 loss to Cerritos in overtime Sunday in a riveting CCCAA State Women’s Soccer Championship game at Ventura College.
The Vikings took it as far as they possibly could, opening eyes and earning rave reviews along the way. They delivered a gritty effort for 120 minutes, but highly-skilled Cerritos won a fifth consecutive state title.
DVC (18-2-6) was the only team to shut out Cerritos (23-1-1) in regulation play this season.
The Vikings received a sensational effort from goalkeeper Katie McLaughlin, who made 17 saves including some show-stoppers.
McLaughlin, a College Park graduate, was an All-North Region selection along with forward Noelle Lemos of Benicia and center back Deiziana Dargan of Northgate.
The team’s outstanding group of defenders also included Jessica Jaime on the left, center back Zoey Ramer and Andrea Weinstein on the right, with support from Sabrina DeBardeleben.

UNCHARTERED WATERS: It was a season of firsts for the Vikings under coach Cailin Mullins:
First Big 8 title.
First win over Santa Rosa under Mullins, in her 16th season.
First No. 1 seed in the North.
First time advancing past the second round of the playoffs.
First Round 3 win: 1-0 over Big 8-rival San Joaquin Delta.
First state semifinal win: 2-0 over Santa Barbara courtesy of second-half goals by Cameron Chan and Karla Ramos, an elegant left midfielder with pace.
Moreover, Mullins was named North Region Coach of the Year at Thursday’s state banquet. Mullins says she knew her team would be “special” from the first kick this season.
“They’re a nice group of kids. They really take being a soccer player serious, and so I’m so happy that we’ve been able to experience the successes we’ve had,” Mullins said recently.

FRESH FACES, KEY ROLES: Lemos, who started the season as a DVC assistant coach before discovering she had eligibility, brought the attack to another level when she took the field. Lemos finished with 19 goals in 23 games, including six in the playoffs. Moreover, an influx of Fab Freshman, among them Vanessa Ruvalcaba, Megan Melara and Chloe Lindemann also helped considerably in the Vikings’ rise.

SOME PLAYER, SOME COACH: A busy soccer bee, Lemos coaches the St. Patrick/St. Vincent High girls varsity squad, and also coaches two youth teams in Benicia, where she starred as a Benicia High player.
So, Lemos has four teams in her life. At last count.
Sometimes her teams share the same soccer air space. After the Vikings beat visiting Las Positas 4-0 to exorcise the program’s Round 2 playoff demon, Lemos, who had a hat trick, and the Vikings were greeted by Lemos’ Under-11 Benicia Arsenal girls’ team. The young girls helped form a cute-as-can-be victory “tunnel.”
“It was super-cute at the end of the game, her little girls coming across and celebrating with her,” Mullins said warmly. “That was fun to watch.”
With her varied coaching tasks and playing responsibilities, Lemos’ time is mostly accounted for during the soccer season.
“I do everything I can,” Lemos said happily.
Mullins says Lemos, a ruthless finisher with a devastating turn on goal, has benefited as a player from being a coach.
“Certainly, once you start coaching you see the game very differently and you understand the game at a whole different level that I know I didn’t get when I was playing,” Mullins said. “That’s definitely an advantage that she has, is to have that coaching experience and seeing the game as a whole and seeing the different positions perspectives.”
Clearly, the soccer bar is much higher now in Pleasant Hill. It will be interesting to see if the Vikings can clear one more height in 2017.
-- Matt Schwab

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