By Ryan Maquiñana
Special to S.F. Examiner
The San Francisco Glens Soccer Club of USL League Two are proud to partner with the Examiner in featuring a different boys’ or girls’ high school team from The City every Sunday.
For the last 21 years, any discussion regarding girls’ soccer supremacy in the CIF San Francisco Section has started and finished with Lowell High School. This season, however, the Mission Bears are bringing a bullhorn to the debate.
After the first month of CIF-SF play, the Bears have raced out to a 4-0-0 record. While Lowell has outscored opponents 17-0 in three games, Mission’s goal differential is 20-1 over four.
The two powerhouses finally collide on Wednesday afternoon when the Cardinals come to campus with their own perfect league record (3-0-0), as well the memory of last season’s triumph over Mission in the CIF-SF final.
“Lowell’s a great team, but we are, too,” said girls’ head coach Robert Escobar, who starred as a defender at Mission before playing at San Francisco State. “If we put in the work to prepare, there’s no reason why we can’t put up a good challenge.”
Washington and Lincoln were expected to provide the Bears with worthy tests heading into the showdown with the Cardinals, but Mission easily vanquished them via shutout, 5-0 and 4-0 respectively.
“It’s about getting respect for the program,” said Mission assistant coach Chuy Gallardo, himself a former stalwart with the Bears. “Now that we’re finally getting results, we’re turning heads.”
Compared with a 6-0 shutout they suffered in the 2016 title game at the hands of Lowell, last season’s final was competitive— a sign of how far Mission’s program has come and how close they are to final victory.
“We held them scoreless at the half,” said forward Vanessa Keel, who scored the lone goal for the Bears in a 3-1 defeat. “I really feel we can knock them off this time. We’re there. We just need a little more determination and confidence.”
Keel has led Mission’s attack again, averaging two goals per game during the team’s unblemished start. Combined with Lowell’s back-to-back non-league losses to Branson and St. Ignatius, the Bears have wrested away the top spot in the Examiner rankings — at least temporarily — from their City rivals.
So will a different school’s name be engraved on the City championship trophy for the first time since 1996-97?
“In the past, no one expected us to go to the final, but we’re not underdogs anymore,” Escobar said. “That puts a little added pressure on us, but it makes us play up to the standards we set for ourselves now.
Four SF Glens Selected in MLS SuperDraft
After just one season in USL League Two, the San Francisco Glens had a whopping four players chosen in last week’s Major League Soccer SuperDraft in Chicago.
A pair of defenders went in the first round, with Saratoga’s Sam Junqua going eighth overall to the Houston Dynamo and Rohnert Park’s Roy Boateng picked 16th by the New York Red Bulls.
The Glens weren’t finished. Forward Shinya Kadono went in the third round (72nd overall) to D.C. United. Sam Ebstein, who attended Lick-Wilmerding High School, was taken 15 picks later in the fourth round by FC Dallas.
“It’s a huge testament to the scouting and recruiting we did to have two players taken in the first round and four players overall — a first for any San Francisco club,” said Glens executive director Mike McNeill.
Now the Glens must reload their roster before the preseason starts in April. The club will hold open tryouts Feb. 24 at Beach Chalet in San Francisco.
The SF Glens are entering their second USL2 season at Boxer Stadium. Featuring the best college talent in the Bay Area and ex-U.S. National Team captain Jimmy Conrad as new technical director, three current Glens participated in this week’s MLS Draft Combine. Learn more at SFGlens.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @SFGlensSC.
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SAN FRANCISCO BOYS’ SOCCER TOP 10 (as of 1/17)
1. St. Ignatius
5. Sacred Heart Cathedral
SAN FRANCISCO GIRLS’ SOCCER TOP 10 (as of 1/17)
2. St. Ignatius
4. Sacred Heart Cathedral