This season, Cal-bound Danielle Brunache broke a conference goal-scoring record, suited up for the under-17 national team and was named an All-American.
But she won’t let any of these lofty achievements distract from her goal.
Senior forward Brunache and the St. Ignatius girls’ soccer team are gunning for a championship, and Wednesday they hopped a step closer by beating host Hillsdale 3-1 in the first round of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs.
“Sometimes I think about everything that’s going on, but once you’re playing, you have to focus on the game,” Brunache said. “It’s easy to get distracted, but we all need to stay focused and keep winning.”
Fourth-seeded SI (12-6-4) advances to Saturday’s quarterfinal match against either Aptos or Pioneer.
Brunache scored one goal and assisted on another, while teammates Laura Oliver and Kat Bloomfield also tallied as the Wildcats blazed a 3-0 halftime lead.
Oliver pounced on Morgan Campbell’s through-ball before slipping behind the Knights’ defense to score after just three minutes. Bloomfield then collected Brunache’s assist and side-footed a well-placed shot into the top corner, doubling the lead.
The 13th-seeded Knights struggled to penetrate during a dominating Wildcats first half, and when Brunache fired home an unstoppable 25-yard rocket near the end of the opening 40 minutes, it looked like a rout was on.
But Hillsdale, playing in its first CCS postseason game in eight years, wasn’t about to roll over as the Knights looked to exploit a confident Wildcats team.
“Sometimes when you go into the second half with as many goals we had, it’s easy to let your guard down,” Brunache said. “I think we came out [in the second half] a little bit overconfident.”
The Knights (11-6-4) created all the chances to pull even, first coming close with Ashlen Attienza’s dipping effort before pressuring the Wildcats’ defense with a flurry of shots as the half wore on.
The consolation score finally came when sophomore Melissa Hastings, whose goal helped the Knights clinch the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division championship with a 1-0 win over Mills last week, fired a shot into the top corner and far out of the reach of Wildcats goalkeeper Sloane Viola.
“I’m proud of my girls,” Knights coach Samia Shoman said. “We played hard and did what we could against a tough team.”
St. Ignatius 3, Hillsdale 1
St. Ignatius 3 0 — 3
Hillsdale 0 1 — 1
First half: SI—Laura Oliver (Morgan Campell), 4th minute; SI—Kat Bloomfield (Danielle Brunache), 26th minute; SI—Brunache, 36th minute.
Second half: H—Melissa Hastings (Nicole Hoffert), 68th minute.
Saves: SI—Sloane Viola 4. H—Allison Nice 3, Tiffany McCurdy 1.