An octet of four-year varsity players has Monte Vista girls soccer tops in the nation.
By CHACE BRYSON | Editor
Somewhere between the final months of 2011 and January 2012, Monte Vista girls soccer coach Brett LeQuesne certainly must have come to the realization that he had hit the jackpot.
Coaches who stay in the profession long enough always have at least one special class that transforms a program. When he kept eight freshman on his 2011-12 team, LeQuesne had to be pretty certain he’d found his.
“From the start of their freshman year, the work ethic of these girls has just been phenomenal,” the coach said.
All eight of those freshman still suit up for the Mustangs as seniors now. And while the Monte Vista program was no slouch before their arrival — it did claim five NCS championships from 1992 to 2005 — it’s never been better than it is right now.
With a 3-0 win against visiting California on Jan. 29, the Mustangs improved to 15-0 on the season and extended a near two-year unbeaten streak to 40 games. Monte Vista hasn’t lost a match since losing the North Coast Section Division I final 1-0 to arch rival San Ramon Valley on Feb. 23, 2013. Since then, the Mustangs went 23-0-2 a season ago and finished the year atop StudentSports.com’s Fab 50 national rankings after avenging that championship loss to San Ramon Valley with a 2-1 victory.
With the 15-0 start, the Mustangs begin February as the No. 1 team in the nation according to the much-respected Top Drawer Soccer rankings.
“What makes them so special is that they have some really good athletes, good kids and they play together on clubs and that translates well when they get out there (for Monte Vista),” said San Ramon Valley coach Mark Jones, who from 2012 to 2014 coached his program to a 46-match unbeaten streak that included 11 draws and ended with a loss to Monte Vista. “They just play well as a team. You have to give them credit. They’re playing in the toughest girls soccer league in the section and they’re finding ways to score goals.”
They’re also finding ways to prevent them.
Monte Vista’s back row and the senior goalkeeping tandem of Leah Emerson and Taylor Winters have posted 13 shutouts and allowed just two goals over the team’s first 15 games. Emerson and Winters weren’t part of that octet of freshman from the 2011-12 team which became the youngest to ever win an NCS title, but plenty of this season’s scoring punch comes from that group.
With Lindsay Rood (nine goals) and Mallory Hromatko (eight) leading the way, the four-year seniors have accounted for 26 of the team’s first 34 goals.
“We’ve been with each other for four years now,” Hromatko said of her fellow classmates. “We’ve gone through a lot together by winning NCS as freshmen and also losing our sophomore year. We’re at our closest right now. We just want to go out with a bang.”
Hromatko is a co-captain and the unquestioned catalyst for the Mustangs. The UC Santa Barbara-bound forward had 13 goals and 15 assists as a junior, but her role during the unbeaten streak has gone beyond stats.
Then there’s Rood, who just might be the purest athlete on the team. Perhaps even the purest in a school full of talented female athletes.
Consider that this isn’t the only Monte Vista team she’s been a four-year starter for, and that soccer isn’t even her No. 1 sport. Rood signed a letter of intent in November to play softball at Cal.
A talented shortstop, Rood lead the middle-of-the-road Mustangs in every conceivable offensive category in 2014. She hit .400 with 14 RBI, 19 runs, nine doubles, two triples, two home runs and 19 stolen bases.
“For a softballer she makes a pretty good soccer player,” LeQuesne said with a chuckle. “I think she has come along as well (since her freshman season). When we click, she’s the one who is sort of driving us.”
But to focus on just a few players is an injustice to what the Mustangs soccer team is doing as a whole. After a Jan. 27 win at Granada, LeQuesne used an NBA analogy by pointing out that it would be similar to putting all of the Golden State Warriors’ current success on All-Stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
“On the way over today, we were talking about the similarities between us and the Warriors right now,” the coach said. “You look at the Warriors and every one has a role, Bogut is key because of his defense and Draymond Green is the heart … And I think that’s the same with all of us. Each girl brings something so dynamic that it’s sort of hard to pinpoint one kid in what they’re all doing.”
Among the other four-year starters, Madeline Gibson and Arianna Zamora have four goals each. Chelsea Barry, the team’s other captain, has five assists. Marissa Savoldi is an integral part of the defensive unit.
But it’s not all seniors, either. Junior forward Amanda Outcalt ranks third on the team with six goals and has three assists as well. Sophomore Nicole Rivas was mentioned by Hromatko as a player who has really surprised her.
“We can have players out and not miss a beat,” LeQuesne said. “That’s really really helpful for us. But it’s also tough for me because we have so much talent on the bench, and trying to get them all in is really tough.”
Yet at the same time, all that talent peacefully co-exists and is all pulling on the same end of the rope. Much of which can be attributed to the leadership and unselfishness of that same group of seniors.
“Honestly, out of the four years I’ve been playing, this is the year where we’re actually a family,” Hromatko said. “We don’t really separate grades and we’re all intermixed with each other. We pick each other up on the field, and at both games and practices we’re all giving 100 percent together.”
LeQuesne can smile through it all. He and his coaching staff know they’ll have talented teams in the future, but this is the ride they’ll recount in coaching circles for years to come.
It’s also a ride the seniors don’t plan on ending without a third NCS crown. If it does, it won’t be due to complacency.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best yet,” Hromatko said. “We have so much potential to be even better than we’re playing right now.”
Prospective NCS Division I playoff teams shudder at the thought.
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