Granite Bay, Cosumnes Oaks and Christian Brothers closed impressive seasons with SJS titles.
By TREVOR HORN | Contributor
If the phone rang anytime soon in the Scotti household, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Disney executives were on the other end of the line.
In a scene set up like a storybook ending, Granite Bay senior Dominic Scotti took a short pass and nailed the game-winning goal with mere seconds left in double overtime to beat previously-undefeated Jesuit in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I finals on Nov. 16 at Cosumnes Oaks High School in Elk Grove.
The goal set off a series of celebrations. With both sides of the high school stadium at near capacity, and both student sections loud and entertaining throughout, Scotti did his best Brandy Chastain impression and tossed his jersey off as he raced down the track along the screaming Grizzly faithful in attendance. With his team trailing behind him in celebration, the final horn sounded.
The Granite Bay student section mobbed Scotti and the rest of the team. The senior, who will head to Wake Forest in January on a soccer scholarship, doubles as the place-kicker for the Granite Bay football team. With his gridiron brethren in attendance after the team beat Tokay-Lodi in the opening round of the section football playoffs the night prior, they mobbed Scotti.
“It’s a fairytale, I guess,” Scotti said. “We’ve been thinking about it the whole time that it would come down to the end.”
Playing with what he said could have been possible cracked ribs busted up at some point early in the championship, Scotti fell to the field numerous times throughout the extended match in excruciating pain. Clutching his side, Scotti said afterwards that at times he had trouble breathing because of the pain.
All of that fell to the wayside once the adrenaline of scoring the game winning goal set in.
But none of this was even thought of as an option when the season began. Regarded as the best soccer player on campus, Scotti was not on the roster to start the season.
A fantastic club player, Scotti chose to continue practicing with the San Jose Earthquakes Club team. But enduring the repeated two-and-a-half hour commute, and knowing that something special was brewing at home for his Grizzlies, he wanted back in.
Led by seniors Corban Anderson, Zack Boyle, Jeff Gaebler, Josh Pleis and Felipe Zegarra, the Grizzlies were 8-3 in the first 11 matches without Scotti.
“The chemistry was really good before Dom came back,” Granite Bay coach Steve Fischer said. “That’s something I was really scared of when he asked if he could come back. I said to him that it wasn’t up to me. It’s not my team. We had a long discussion, but we’re a better team with him. So (the team) brought him back and it just worked.”
Since his return, the Grizzlies finished the season with a 14-game winning streak and the program’s first Div. I title after three Div. II titles under Fischer since 2006.
Fischer is now an owner of six section titles after claiming 1994 and 1995 titles with Oakmont. “This one is special. The team was special. The way we did it was special,” Fischer said. “The focus the entire year was pretty incredible.”
Getting a rare chance to win a section title on its home field, the Cosumnes Oaks team took full advantage to celebrate in their own backyard. The Wolfpack, fueled by two second-half goals by senior Collin Bettencourt, beat Gregori-Modesto 2-1 in the finals to capture the first boys section title in any sport at the six-year-old Elk Grove Unified school. “It’s amazing,” Bettencourt said. “We never thought it was going to happen.”
Cosumnes Oaks finished the season unbeaten with an 18-0-4 record. The Sierra Valley Conference champions also had another first in school history by becoming the first program to win a league title and section title in the same season. The Cosumnes Oaks girls track and field team has won the last three D-IV section titles, but did not win the SVC title in those years.
“This feeling is great,” Cosumnes Oaks coach Alejandro Murillo Chavez said. “We have worked so hard for this. I just want to say thank you to all the parents, the players and the school support. We wouldn’t have been here if not for the support of the community.”
The 2013 season has been special to Capital Christian, especially for coach Ab Alvarez and his son, senior Devon Alvarez. The Cougars, a small school soccer power with less than 500 students, won the Div. VI title, winning 5-0 over Encina. Devon Alvarez scored the fifth and final goal for the Cougars in the championship, the last he will play for his father as a coach. “It was the greatest thing,” Devon Alvarez said. “I love having my dad as a coach.”
Capital Chrisitan (21-4) lost just once to an SJS team this season, a 1-0 defeat to Div. I power Davis four days after the Cougars beat national power Jesuit-Portland (Ore.) 1-0. The only other losses came in a national tournament in St. Louis.
The team finished the season with a 13-game winning streak, a goal they set after coming home from Missouri. “These guys went 13-0 after we got back,” coach Alvarez said. “They were on a mission to do it and they did.”
Paul Herscowitz and Levi Nunez scored first half goals for the Cougars in the finals and JT Clapp scored two second half goals before Alvarez finished it off with a late goal. “I don’t know what to say,” Clapp said. “I couldn’t ask for a better way to end the season in my high school career. It’s unreal. I could never ask for a better team. I don’t want to leave.”
Liberty Ranch and Galt brought section championship banners back to the town 30 minutes south of Sacramento. Liberty Ranch won the Div. IV title over Weston Ranch-Stockton 3-2 and Galt beat Riverbank 8-0 for the Div. V title. Both were firsts for the soccer programs of the neighborhood rivals. Christian Brothers captured the school’s first Div. III title with a 3-2 win over Central Valley-Ceres. In Div. VII, Forest Lake Christian won its second section title with a 2-1 victory over Faith Christian.
SportStars Magazine: High School Sports Articles Online SportStars is your go-to source for the very best high school sports articles in California. Player and team profiles, game coverage, health and fitness tips and the largest Camps, Clinics & Combine resource for athletes. We're the story behind the stats.