*Editor’s note: This is the sixth in an 11-part series previewing Davis High’s spring sports.
With the girls Delta Valley Conference soccer banner in foreign territory — at Franklin High — Davis’ strong showing in this weekend’s St. Mary’s Tournament heralded a retooled local squad that should mean business this spring.
“Overall, I was super pleased,” second-year Blue Devil coach Sara Stone told The Enterprise Saturday after her charges won three of five games in the two-day Stockton shootout.
While offense was at a premium, a shining DHS defense allowed the Devils to beat Bradshaw Christian, split with Enochs and beat arch-rival St. Francis. A goal at the final whistle carried Ponderosa to 1-0 win.
Stone said earlier in the week that this weekend’s 60-minute games would be a great chance to see what needed tweaking.
“I really did think we played fabulous all weekend. Our style of play and understanding of the game was fun to watch,” Stone added. “Unfortunately, we had a tough time putting the ball in the back of the net.”
But the flashes of brilliance were everywhere — and a solid back line means opponents could struggle on offense.
Senior Maddy Purves looks to have cemented the goalkeeper post. But before she sees any significant action, foes will have to work their way through defenders like seniors Makenzie Delaughder, Jenna Farboud, Kylie Tierney and Megan Casey. Sophomore back Olivia Haass, thanks to a great weekend, also earned praise from Stone: “She’s fitting in great.”
At midfield, veterans Emily Goa, Brooke Palmer and Clara Goin provide experience while sophomore Renee Schuman and freshman Gabriela Herrera provide depth at a versatile position.
“Renee covers a lot of ground,” Stone said. “Gabby has a good sense of the game; Emily is a great worker; Clara is all-around solid and can score and Brooke is a defense-minded midfielder who is strong on the ball. Schuman can also play back for us.”
Up front, gone to graduation is Notre Dame freshman Anna Marie Gilbertson, the U-18 National Team Member who scored 82 goals and had more than 70 assists in her three-year varsity career.
But Stone believes sophomore forward Sophia Hernandez will be a future bright spot and, with Natalie Ho, Goin and Kalani Ratnasiri turning up the heat, Davis could more than make up for Gilbertson’s departure.
Ho, Goin and Ratnasiri are known for their abilities to see the entire field. DHS is quick on the attack and is expected to be able to either maintain control or attack the goal from all angles.
Stone said fans will enjoy “the simplicity” of the Blue Devils’ new look.
“We’re very unselfish, team-oriented … both things I really like,” the coach continued.
So what should those fans expected in 2013, especially when DVC and postseason play begin?
“Franklin right now is the team that’s in the lead from last year,” Stone explained. “With our girls being very competitive, we’ll want those (Franklin) games again.”
Mark the calendar: DHS is at the Wildcats on April 1; then host the section runners-up on April 17.
By most other schools’ standards, last year’s 20-3-2 record would have been considered successful. However, Davis was bounced in the Sac-Joaquin quarterfinals by Folsom, 2-0. Meanwhile, those rascally Wildcats went on to the section final before losing to St. Mary’s, 2-1.
In Stockton on Friday, Davis’ inability to score — and a couple of late goals — cost it a shot at tournament title. The Devils have won four St. Mary’s crowns over the years.
An Enochs goal with 90 seconds left gave the Eagles a 1-0 win before Hernandez and Ratnasiri tallies sent DHS past Bradshaw Christian, 2-0.
The highlight of the packed weekend came when Goin’s goal allowed the Blue Devils to take out St. Francis, 1-0.
In what Stone called the best game of the tournament, Davis dominated time of possession and shots, but fell to the last-second goal in the 1-0 upset by Ponderosa.
As a demonstration that they’re paying attention — and learning through experience — the Devils avenged the opening-game setback with a 2-1 win over Enochs. Midfielder-forward Suleika Sutter — another sophomore — and Ratnasiri scored the goals.
On a DHS team that sports eight seniors, keeper Madison MacKenzie joins Herrera as the two freshman, while five sophomores include Jaha McClean, another forward. Forwards Ju-A Son and Meaghan Murphy are the other two juniors.
Notes: Davis is at Terra Linda (San Rafael) Tuesday before coming home Thursday to meet Will C. Wood (7 p.m.). Rocklin and Del Oro come to town March 5 and 7. … The Blue Devils have won four Sac-Joaquin Section titles: 1998, 1999, 2007, 2011. … Speaking of Gilbertson and Notre Dame, the former DHS standout is the second Blue Devil to play at the Golden Dome. DHS grad Sani Post was a goalkeeper there in 1999-2000.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.