By Jeremy Balan
MOUNTAIN VIEW — In the first half of St. Ignatius’ WCAL championship game against top-seeded Archbishop Mitty, the Wildcats didn’t look like a third seed, playing an evenly-matched half with the Monarchs.
But as a halftime drizzle turned into a driving downpour, the St. Ignatius attack waned, and Mitty capitalized on one of the limited opportunities in the half, en route to a 1-0 win on Thursday at St. Francis High School.
The Monarchs’ (15-2-4) breakthrough came in the 71st minute, when the Wildcats (13-8-3) failed to fully clear out a Mitty crossing pass. The ball instead bounced to Mitty senior Michaela Matulich, who lobed a ball at the net from about 20 yards out.
The ball appeared destined for the top half of the net, but St. Ignatius goalkeeper Emily Lynch leaped up to punch the ball away. Lynch was able to hit the ball, but could not clear it over the crossbar, instead sending it into the top left corner of the net for the game-winning goal.
“She made a great effort, but she was unlucky,” said St. Ignatius head coach Carlos Escobar. “It was a messy day and a messy game, and we didn’t get a clearance. They sent it back in and finished it.”
Despite the early offensive struggles in the second half, the goal incited the Wildcats’ attack, and Duke-bound senior Audrey Gibson nearly had the equalizer with time winding down.
In the 76th minute, Gibson found herself on the left wing with just a single defender to beat. She brought the ball back to the center of the field, created space between the defender and sent a strong strike from 25 yards out that appeared to be destined for the top left corner of the net. But Mitty junior goalkeeper Lindsay Mewes leapt toward the ball, and punched it over the crossbar to keep the slate clean for the Monarchs.
“Lindsay Mawes is the best goalkeeper in the Bay area, bar none,” said Mitty head coach John Hanley. “She makes saves like that in practice all the time, but doesn’t see many of them in games, because we don’t give up many shots, but when she needs to come up big she makes those saves.”
The win gives Mitty the outright WCAL title, winning the regular season title and the tournament, but Escobar and the Wildcats are already thinking about the upcoming CIF-Central Coast Section playoffs that begin next week.
“We’re going to evaluate this one, then tomorrow we’re going to start thinking about the next round,” Escobar said.