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SportStars contributor Matt Smith breaks down the two NCS boys playoff fields. DIVISION I: De La Salle is a familar one seed in a...

SportStars contributor Matt Smith breaks down the two NCS boys playoff fields.

DIVISION I: De La Salle is a familar one seed in a loaded tournament field

In winning its third straight North Coast Section Division I title a year ago, De La Salle High School found itself in an unusual situation as the underdog and No. 8 seed. 

Now, the Spartans are back to where they are accustomed to being — earning the top seed for the third time in the last four years.

De La Salle hasn’t lost since December, and has only lost to one NCS team. This could be the most balanced team that the school has had in a quite awhile.

The bracket is loaded with contenders, however. None more dangerous than Richmond. The Oilers scored 89 goals on the year, won 20 games and have two players that have scored 25+ goals. This is also the best team Richmond has had in a few years.

Richmond, as well as other top seeds — California, Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley — have all fallen to the Spartans this year. But there is one team that hasn’t, and that is fourth-seeded Clayton Valley, who beat De La Salle 1-0 in December.

The Eagles are a dangerous team that hasn’t suffered a bad loss this season and can not be taken lightly. Cal and Monte Vista have drawn with De La Salle, and San Ramon Valley has lost two squeakers. The field is very even to say the least.

When Newark Memorial, with 20 wins and an unbeaten run through the Mission Valley Athletic League, is seeded at No. 7, you know the field is deep. Likely under-seeded, the Cougars will need to go through Richmond in the second round to prove they should have been seeded higher.

TOP SEEDS: De La Salle (18-3-2), Richmond (20-4-0), California (17-3-3), Clayton Valley (17-4-3), Monte Vista (13-3-8), San Ramon Valley (14-6-4)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: M, Damian Martinez, De La Salle; K Andrew Konstantino, De La Salle; M, Erik Montes, Richmond; M, Israel Ayala, Richmond; F, Gerardo Mendoza, Richmond; M, Duke Driggs, California; D, Matt Goodman, California; F, Jimmy Roth, San Ramon Valley; M, Josh Gomez, Clayton Valley; M, Erick De La Pena, Newark Memorial; F, Jeff Greenberg, Monte Vista.

THE FAVORITE: De La Salle is the favorite, as the three-time defending champions as the championship runs through Owen Owens Field. With a team that hasn’t lost in its last 15 matches, and has only given up seven goals in that stretch, head coach Derricke Brown may have the best De La Salle team since 2008-2009.

THE BRACKETBUSTER: It’s odd to think that San Ramon Valley is not a top four seed, and because they are a six seed, watch out. I think the Wolves could bust the bracket on the bottom half. They went 1-0-1 against third-seeded California and have beaten No. 2 Richmond.

SEMIFINALS: De La Salle d. Clayton Valley; Richmond d. San Ramon Valley


DIVISION II: Acalanes snags top seed, but Ygnacio Valley may still be the team to beat.

The seeding committee caught a lot of people off guard when it offered the top seed to Acalanes, a team with 12 wins, eight draws and finished the season 1-1-3. 

Many anticipated the No. 1 slot to go to an Ygnacio Valley team that has not lost in 20 straight matches. Both teams will be able to host until a potential matchup in the finals, so all that matters with the seeding is potential pairings. For those purposes, it appears that the Dons draw might be a bit tougher.

The potential pairings for Acalanes include defending champion Campolindo, who limped into the playoffs a bit and grabbed the four seed, as well as perennial power Bishop O’Dowd and one of the hottest teams in the East Bay in Alhambra.

With the DFAL taking three of the top four seeds, Dublin snagged the No. 3 seed, closing the season with a 5-0-2 run, including wins over Acalanes and Campolindo. The Gaels will pose the biggest threat to Ygnacio Valley in the bottom half of the bracket.

Like Dublin, Alhambra is also 5-0-2 in its last seven games and may have had an argument for not earning a seed higher than No. 8. A first-round matchup with O’Dowd is tough, and a potential second-round game with Acalanes is even tougher. The Bulldogs will have to keep playing well to reach the semifinals.

No. 5 Concord comes in under the radar after going undefeated for its first 17 matches before losing to Ygnacio Valley and Clayton Valley to close the year.

TOP SEEDS: Acalanes (12-2-8), Ygnacio Valley (18-2-2), Dublin (15-5-3), Campolindo (16-4-3), Concord (13-2-4), Hayward (14-5-2)

PLAYERS TO WATCH: M, Edgar Damian, Ygnacio Valley; F, Jonathan Ayala, Ygnacio Valley; F, Dan Glascock, Acalanes; M Alex Marshall, Dublin; D, Oliver Castillo, Dublin; M, Sam Palano, Campolindo; M, Andy Altamarino, Concord; M, Cata Gomez, Hayward; F, Rigo Castillo, Hayward.

THE FAVORITE: The Ygnacio Valley Warriors have only allowed nine goals this season, scoring 67 of their own. The combination of an explosive offense, a bend but don’t break defense, and a solid keeper makes this team the favorite. Oh yeah, and they’ve gone 20 matches in a row without a defeat, last losing in mid-November.

THE BRACKETBUSTER: Keep an eye on Hayward. The Farmers are a very talented and dangerous team. The strength lies in the midfield where Cata Gomez does a lot of creating, and up top sophomores Rigo Castillo and Anthony Gray are very dangerous. If this team gets a lead, it’s usually over because the field opens up for them as teams try to play catch up.

SEMIFINALS: Campolindo d. Acalanes; Ygnacio Valley d. Dublin

CHAMPIONSHIP PREDICTION: Ygnacio Valley 3, Campolindo 1

— Matt Smith, contributor

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