Women’s soccer makes historic run

Team reaches regional tourney for first time


Leilani Houlihan

The women’s soccer team celebrates. They were able to do that a lot this season on the way to the NCS championship game.

Eli Mayerson, Sports Editor

By far the most surprising team from the winter sports season was women’s soccer, which entered the NCS playoffs as an unassuming 12th seed. 

After all, Cal ended the regular season with a 9-10-4 record, 4-7-2 in league play, and finished in seventh place out of 10 schools in the EBAL.

But the Grizzlies went on a magical run to reach the NCS title game and advanced all the way to the NorCal Regional semifinals before their season came to an end. 

“I am so proud of the entire team,” first-year head coach Ramiro Rodriguez said.

Entering NCS, the overwhelming favorites were top- seeded Monte Vista and No. 2 Carondelet, ranked 25th and sixth in California, respectively. But hope emerged after Monte Vista was upset 1-0 by No. 16 seed Granada in the first round.

“We were mind blown when Monte Vista lost,” senior team captain Naya Pollack said.

Cal opened with a first-round matchup against fifth-seeded Dublin. Cal’s team had lost their previous matchup to the Gales.

“We were eager to beat Dublin after they defeated us during the league season off a last minute goal,” Pollack said.

The game ended 2-1 in favor of Cal after an amazing 35-yard indirect kick from junior Lili Loney late in the game. The win moved Cal into the quarterfinals against No. 13 Foothill, which had pulled off an upset against No. 4 Tamalpais.

Cal and Foothill ended regulation scoreless, leading to a  penalty shootout. It was a tight shootout, but Cal emerged on top 5-4. Sophomore Goalie Layla Armas won the game with a clutch save and Loney made the decisive penalty. 

The team then moved on to the semifinals and faced No. 8 Maria Carillo. For the second game in a row, it ended in a Cal victory in a penalty shootout after a scoreless tie. This shootout wasn’t even close as Cal won 4-1. 

This put Cal against Carondelet for the Division I NCS championship.

The string of victories ended here, though, as Cal fell 3-0. But because of their Cinderella story performance in the playoffs, Cal qualified for the NorCal Division IV regional finals for the first time in school history. 

The Grizzlies were seeded seventh, meaning they had a first-round matchup with No. 2  Pioneer High from Woodland. Once again, Cal was able to pull off an impressive upset, winning 1-0. Their run ended in the regional semifinals, when they lost 3-1 to No. 3 Pioneer High from San Jose. 

The culture that the team had built throughout the season was key in making history.

“It was the support that went around for each other,” Pollack said. “We were always lifting each other up and helping each other out and overall had a really positive and fun environment.”


All four members of the women’s team made NCS, as well as seven total from the men’s team, including senior Josh Peralta and junior Kevin Goodman.

Three Grizzlies ended up placing top 12 in NCS and two reached the podium.

Peralta was the best performer, ending the season in sixth at NCS in the 120-pound weight class. Senior Ella Hofer placed seventh in the 189-pound weight class to medal as well. She became only the second woman in Cal history to do so.

Goodman was the other team member who placed top 12 at the 145 pound weight class.

Men’s Basketball

The men’s basketball team finished the season 14-12, 4-5 in-league, which was good enough for eighth in the EBAL.

This allowed Cal to earn  the 6th seed going into Division I NCS playoffs, as three EBAL teams were good enough to make Open Division.

They were matched up against Monte Vista in the first round. They did not see any further action than this, however, as Monte Vista pulled out the upset over Cal, 65-62.

Women’s Basketball

Despite a young and inexperienced roster with many underclassmen, the women’s basketball team did well, finishing with a 14-15 record, 5-5 in-league, which landed them in fourth place in EBAL.

The team was seeded 11th in Division I and had a first-round matchup against American. The game was close, but Cal couldn’t quite pull it out, as the team lost 50-49.

Men’s Soccer

The men’s soccer team was the most successful regular season team this year. They ended the season with a record of 14-6-5, 8-3-2 in-league, placing them 3rd in EBAL, right behind powerhouses in De la Salle and Dublin High. In fact, Cal was able to hand De la Salle their only league loss of the entire season.

The team was seeded 7th in the playoffs, matched up with Berkeley in the first round. Cal came out on top with a final score of 2-1.

In the second round, Cal was to face 2nd seed Montgomery, who they had tied with much earlier in the season. This time, the second round was the end of the road for Cal, as they fell 2-1.