Millennium High’s soccer team claimed the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII title with a 5-3 win in double overtime over the Lions from Faith Christian of Yuba City Saturday afternoon at Lincoln High in Stockton.
It’s the first section title for the Millennium girls and the second for the local charter school, which finishes its fourth year of athletics in the Sac-Joaquin Section. The girls matched the accomplishment of this year’s boys soccer team, Division VII champions for the fall 2010 season.
Freshman forward Ivy Torres said she was nearly overwhelmed by the nerves and pressure of playing for a section championship, but she and the team soon responded to the challenge from Faith Christian.
“This year was a really hard year for us, because we had mostly freshmen on our varsity team, but we all worked together and we all made it up here, and we didn’t give up at all,” she said. “We were down, but we have so much chemistry that we pushed each other up to get all the momentum to end up winning.”
Faith Christian scored the first goal shortly into the first half. Torres was in position to take a pass in front of the goal and knock it into the corner to tie it up. The Lions scored again with a couple minutes left in the half after goal keeper Brianna Murawski blocked a shot from up close, but one of the Lions’ players was there to make the shot on the rebound.
Teams took turns on offense in the second half, with Millennium goal keeper Brianna Murawski and sweeper Elyssa Perales keeping the Lions from getting clear shots for most of the half.
Faith Chrisitian scored one more with four minutes left in the game on a shot from the left off of a free kick. Torres and Salina Elias quickly brought the ball up the field and Elias knocked it in to keep it a one-goal game.
With less than a half minute left the Falcon’s midfielders got the ball away from the Lions, and Torres passed the ball up to Elias who made the shot. Elias said afterward that she didn’t realize at the time that it would be their last chance to score. It put the game into overtime.
The teams stayed tied through the first 10-minute overtime period. In the second period the Falcons got a penalty kick three minutes in after a Faith Christian defender hit the ball with her hand on a Millennium shot. Elyssa Perales came up to shoot the ball into the right side to put Millennium ahead.
Elliot put pressure on Millennium’s defense for most of the rest of the overtime period, until the Falcons made another push and Torres got a chance to make a corner kick. The ball landed in the crowd in front of the goal where Nataly Solis was in position. Solis knocked the ball in to make it a 5-3 game right before the final whistle.
Elias said afterward that her goal to tie it up in the final seconds of regulation seemed like a victory in itself, and gave the team confidence to play strong in overtime.
“It’s exciting to know that you can play at any level that any other team is at.”
It’s the second section championship at Millennium for coach Daniel Espinoza, who so far has coached two boys teams and this girls team. He figures his job is just to keep the players motivated.
“I’ve got really determined kids. They’re really good athletes. They’re very competitive out here,” he said. “I usually tell them, win or lose, if you come off that field and can say you gave 110 percent then it’s a win.”
“The advantage is I think these girls wanted it more than the others.”