Even a member of head coach Milton Gallegos’ own family didn’t want his Napa High girls soccer team to beat Vintage on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
As the crosstown rivals battled to a 3-3 tie, the fourth consecutive Big Game deadlock spanning three Vine Valley Athletic League seasons, it was Gallegos’ niece, Vintage freshman Leila Newberry, who put pressure on her uncle’s team by giving the Crushers a 3-2 halftime edge.
Maile Sittler set the tone for Vintage’s big first half by scoring off a Sofia Reiswig assist just a couple of minutes into the game.
It went back and forth from there. Ella Turjanis equalized for Napa High (1-0-1 VVAL), Eliana Vazquez put the Crushers (0-1-1 VVAL) back on top, and Ava Dominguez knotted it back up for the Grizzlies with an assist from Annie Sanchez before Newberry’s go-ahead goal.
A freshman also had a part in Napa High’s third goal. Ninth-grader Devyn O’Donnell deflected a 50-50 ball that the explosive Dominguez scooped up and slotted to the left of diving Vintage goalkeeper Carla Magana midway through the second half.
“It was what we always expect from Big Game, a lot of fight and physicality,” Gallegos said. “They were giving us a difficult time in the first half. Fortunately, we were only down by one at halftime and made some adjustments to match their physical play. We had much better ball possession in the second half and, fortunately, Ava tied it up. Both teams had chances at the end, but it was another tie.
He said Dominguez, Turjanis and Sanchez “really catapulted our attack all game” and that Diana Calderon Montañez and Kiersten Hansen “really held down a back line that was able to absorb a relentless attack from Vintage.”
Vintage senior Neilani Newberry, another niece of Gallegos, and her little sister “were both handfuls in the first half,” their uncle said. “But less in the second half, as we held the ball better then.”
Vintage head coach Miguel Ayala thought his team played well.
“We created chances to score, and we will work on helping out the defense as a team. We are at times having five freshmen out there, something I haven’t ever done; I usually bring up just one. My coaches and I will continue to mold this team to have more continuity.”
Neither league pennants nor playoff berths are in the offing this season due pandemic-related issues ranging from teams losing key players to other sports, with more sports than usual being played simultaneously, to empathy for those whose lives have been lost to or otherwise severely impacted by COVID-19.
But these two rivals just wanted to get their first wins, and to not lose to their neighbors.
“The Big Game for soccer or any sport is always a tough game no matter what the standings are or, in this case, if there is no league title,” Ayala said. “These kids are playing usually in front of family and friends that usually are on the same team for club soccer, so the mental and emotional part for this game is way bigger.”
Vintage had lost its season and league opener the week before at Casa Grande, 4-0.
Napa High had won its season and league debut Tuesday night over visiting Sonoma Valley, 2-1, as Jasmine Alonso and Dominguez scored.
Varsity Girls Basketball
Northgate 46, American Canyon 44
The Wolves traveled to Walnut Creek to face nonleague opponent Northgate and came up just short in a very competitive game that was close throughout.
The leading contributors for American Canyon were Jasmine Fontilla (15 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists), Destiny Evans (12 points, 11 rebounds, 1 block), Julianna Cornelio (9 points, 4 rebounds), Trinity Billingsley (5 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) and Amaree Bennett (3 points, 6 rebounds).
Montgomery 11, Justin-Siena 8
The Braves hosted Montgomery of Santa Rosa on Saturday in what turned out to be a hitting clinic as the teams combined for 28 hits, 12 for extra bases. Justin-Siena trailed 9-1 after two innings and 11-1 after 4½, erupting for four runs in the bottom of the fifth to keep from falling by the 10-run mercy rule. They added two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh, but didn’t quite get the tying run to the plate.
Head coach Jeremy Tayson said Braves were fueled by the all-around play of Keith Binz (1 for 2, double, RBI, hit by pitch, sacrifice fly, run), Braden Snoke (2 for 3, triple, walk, run, outfield assist, 2 2/3 shutout innings pitched) and Jackson Dann (2 for 3, double, 3 RBIs, run) who came off the bench to make a sensational over-the-shoulder catch in deep right center field.
“We are going to see strong competition all year, no question,” Tayson added. “This was certainly not the start or result we wanted today, but if we learn what we need to learn from this it will serve us well as we head into the meat of the league season.”
The Braves also got hits from Nick Andrews (1 for 3, 2 RBIs, stolen base, hit by pitch, sacrifice fly), Dalen Tinsley (2 for 5, double, 2 runs), Gianni Natuzzi (2 for 3, RBI, 2 runs) and Robert Sangiacomo (1 for 4, RBI, 2 stolen bases).
Petaluma 8, Napa 4 (8 innings)
Napa (1-2, (1-1 VVAL) led 4-3 after seven innings but the teams played nine playing, with the visiting Trojans (2-0, 1-0 VVAL) scoring five unanswered runs in extra innings at Mount Field on Friday.
Each team had seven hits, with the Grizzlies’ knocks coming from Cameron Taylor (2 for 4, 2 RBIs), Ellott Zuidema (2 for 3, walk, run), Connor Ross (1 for 4, run, stolen base), Lucas Brandon (1 for 3, RBI, walk) and Trace Willoughby (1 for 1).
Also chipping in were Dylan Snider (hit by pitch, 2 runs, stolen base) and Daniel Healy (hit by pitch). Snider also pitched the first four innings (1 earned run, 2 hits, 2 strikeouts, 3 walks) and Kaleb Matulich, Ross and Zuidema finished up.
American Canyon 15, Sonoma Valley 0 (5 innings)
The Wolves (3-1, 3-0 VVAL) got on the board with 9 runs in the second inning and scored in every inning after that Thursday, routing the Dragons (0-3 VVAL) behind several multiple-hit performances.
Hitting for American Canyon were Angelia Rodriguez (4 for 4, double, 2 RBIs), Alexandria Yra (3 for 4, 4 RBIs), pitcher Jaida Fulcher (3 for 4, double, RBI), Kylee Sandino (2 for 4, home run, double, 2 RBIs), Lindsay Feinberg (2 for 4, RBI), Yanesa Rosas (2 for 4, RBI) and Mya Santiago (1 for 4, triple, 2 RBIs) and Maddy Chambers (1 for 3, walk).
Fulcher pitched a 2-hitter with 3 strikeouts and 2 walks for the Wolves, who visit co-leader Petaluma on Tuesday.
Dixon 8, Napa 0
The Grizzlies were shut out on the road Friday despite out-hitting Dixon, 10-8.
Their multiple hitters were Jordan Blackmon (2 for 4), Caity Newburn (2 for 3) and Alyssa Michie (2 for 3), with Alana Valentine, Karen Sepulveda, Olivia Vavricka and Molly Travis adding one hit apiece.
Sepulveda pitched a complete game in defeat, allowing 6 earned runs and 3 walks while fanning 4.
The Grizzlies (1-3, 1-2 VVAL) will host Vintage (3-0, 2-0 VVAL) in a Big Game at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Montgomery 8, Justin-Siena 3
The Braves hosted Montgomery of Santa Rosa on the varsity field Saturday and didn’t come back from a 5-0 deficit after two innings. They scored two in the third and one in the fourth.
Emrys Davies took the loss on the mound in his first appearance of the year, pitching the first two innings. He allowed only 1 earned run on 3 hits, 4 walks and 1 hit batter. Andrew Hileman, Kevin Montes and Trevor L'esperance finished up, allowing only 3 earned runs on 2 hits the rest of the way. L'esperance led the offense with 3 hits, a run and RBI. Montes had a hit and RBI, Cesar Evina a hit and a run, Davies a hit, and Timmy Walsh a run.
“Defensively we played better and eliminated mental mistakes but had some problems on offense against the Viking pitchers, with a season-high 8 strikeouts,” said Justin-Siena head coach Steve Meyer. “We were able to get some pitchers work and that will help us down the road.”
The Braves (1-2, 0-1 VVAL) travel to Napa High (1-2, 0-2 VVAL) on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. game.
JV Girls Soccer
Vintage 2, Napa 0
Ciana Suza and Jazmine Juarez scored for the Crushers (1-1 VVAL) in Friday’s Little Big Game. They were coming off a 1-0 loss at Casa Grande.