By James Huber
Palo Alto Online Sports
The Menlo School girls' soccer team claimed the program's first-ever outright Central Coast Section championship with a 2-0 victory over No. 2-seeded Santa Cruz on Saturday in the Division III finals at Valley Christian in San Jose.
No. 4-seeded Menlo (15-4-3) turned in a complete performance, dominating on both offense and defense to beat the Cardinals (14-5-3). The championship was the first outright CCS title for the Menlo girls' soccer program, whose last co-championship occurred in 1990.
"This is the best team I've ever had," head coach Donoson FitzGerald said. "I've had a lot of great teams at Menlo, but this team is above and beyond."
Sophomore midfielder Jaye Boissiere scored Menlo's first goal off a penalty kick with six minutes left in the first half. After sophomore forward Chandler Wickers was fouled from behind on a breakaway, Boisserie stepped up.
"Generally I try to get (the goalie) to go the wrong way so I can not hit it perfectly and still have it go in," Boisserie said, who was 3-3 on penalty kicks in the CCS playoffs.
Menlo took a 1-0 lead into halftime and never looked back, keeping the ball in Santa Cruz's territory for most of the second half.
Wickers was relentless at the point of attack for Menlo and punched in the team's second goal off a nifty assist from sophomore Lindsay Karle in the 67th minute.
"Lindsay flicks it all the time and you know the flicks are always going to be good," Wickers said.
The vaunted Menlo defense suffocated the Santa Cruz attack and recorded its 11th shutout of the season. Senior defender Shannon Lacy led the way once again and the defense prevented the Cardinals from mustering any dangerous scoring opportunities in the second half. The formidable tag team of junior goalies Kelly McConnell and Julia Dressel recorded yet another shutout.
"We're really in tune with each other," Lacy said. "If it gets past one of us we're really good at getting back and supporting each other."
Early in the game, both teams had good opportunities at goal. Wickers narrowly missed a shot over the crossbar and a Santa Cruz header sailed wide left of the frame.
Menlo had a couple of scoring chances after its first goal; Boisserie had a nice left-footed cross into the box for sophomore Siena Stritter and Wickers fed Karle for a through ball that was snuffed out by the Santa Cruz keeper. In the second half senior Elyse Adler's long throw-ins caught Santa Cruz sleeping, with Menlo's forwards swooping in from behind.
Menlo defeated Castilleja in penalty kicks and top-seeded Scotts Valley 1-0 before defeating Santa Cruz in the championship.
"We played a very good team," FitzGerald said. "We certainly have some incredible individuals, but this team all the way through is strong. We found a way to win with different players stepping up. It's hard to put a finger on it. I love this team. I love to see who they are as people . . . These girls kept playing at such a high level."