The past weekend capped off arguably the best year for soccer in San Francisco since the days of USF’s national championships, with two teams from The City taking home titles in the inaugural CIF Northern California Regional Championships and two others reaching regional finals.
The St. Ignatius boys capped off a remarkable run by defeating Montgomery of Santa Rosa in a thriller, 3-2 in overtime, to claim the highest honor of all, the Division I title. The Wildcats also won the WCAL and CCS Open Division. SI topped nationally ranked Folsom in the semifinals, and the championship victory was one of the most exciting athletic events at any level of competition played in the state this year.
The Wildcats took the lead with two minutes left in regulation before Montgomery immediately netted the equalizer. The hero in overtime was senior Alex Bailey, who scored the golden goal six minutes into the extra period.
SI wasn’t the only school to have a great year. Rival Sacred Heart Cathedral won both boys’ and girls’ CCS titles. The boys had lost the championship game to Mt. Pleasant of San Jose but were awarded the victory after it was learned that the Cardinals had used an ineligible player. The SHC girls pulled off a miraculous run after going 2-7-1 in league play, reaching the NorCal semifinals before finally falling to Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa.
University’s boys reached the Division III regional final by making the long trip to Chico and beating Pleasant Valley. The Red Devils pushed West Campus of Sacramento to the limit in that title game before ultimately falling 2-1 in overtime.
On both the boys and girls sides, the city champions took Northern California by storm, with the Lowell girls and Leadership boys both reaching Division IV title games.
The Lowell girls dominated the AAA, winning every game by at least two goals behind the expertise of sophomore midfielder Hannah McCord and junior defender Fiona Plunkett. In regional play, the Cardinals took down Oakland Tech 1-0, made the trek to Redding to defeat University Prep 2-1 and came home from the Central Valley with the trophy after beating Ripon in overtime. Freshman Sarah Ginsburg scored both goals in the championship victory.
The Leadership boys were topped by Le Grand (Merced County) in the Division IV final, but the Griffins had gone on an improbable run to reach Saturday’s title game. After finishing third in the AAA, they took down second-place Lowell in the city semifinals before a championship win over Jordan. In regional play, Leadership topped seventh-seeded Oakland Tech and sixth-seeded Hamilton before coming up just short against Le Grand.
Now that regional titles are being contested, the logical next step would be for the CIF to organize state championship games. With all of the successes from local teams, San Francisco would be an ideal site to host those title games in the coming years.
Prep Focus writer Ethan Kassel covers high school sports throughout the Bay Area. If you have a story tip, game to watch or player to track, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.