ELK GROVE — Whew. Home intact with a share of the Delta Valley Conference girls soccer championship, Davis High now prepares for the postseason, which begins Tuesday.
The Blue Devils got a goal from freshman Gaby Herrera with 30 seconds left to escape with a 2-1 victory over the host Thundering Herd on Wednesday as DHS ran its record to 17-4-1 (9-1 in DVC).
“I’m really proud of the girls for fighting on after (Elk Grove) equalized,” Devil assistant coach Brittany Gary told The Enterprise. “We became really creative in the final third … and it was great that everyone contributed.”
Despite the loss, the Herd (7-8, 6-4) have assured themselves of a place in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs as the DVC third-place team. But on this day, Elk Grove apparently had another goal in mind — knocking Davis from a share of the pennant. With a DHS tie or loss, Franklin (18-3, 9-1) would have taken sole ownership of the league title.
A scoreless first half saw the Devils miss several tantalizing scoring chances. Meanwhile, acrobatic goalie Maddy Purves was hard at work turning away several good Herd chances.
Escaping the action-packed but goal-deprived first 40 minutes gave DHS some added energy.
Twenty minutes after intermission, Kalani Ratnasiri got the ball to Sophia Hernandez, who one-touched the sphere past a startled keeper.
Though the Blue Devils were playing their usual stonewall defense, the wind and turf joined in force with Elk Grove when a 40-yard set piece found its way over the Davis back wall, bounced once in goofy style and sailed over keeper Madison MacKenzie’s head, untouched.
“That was too bad,” Gary explained. “Madison felt bad … but there was nothing she could do.”
During a back-and-forth final 10 minutes, things looked bleak for the locals as a tie wouldn’t be enough to keep their DVC title share.
But Hernandez made a furious drive through a couple of Herd defenders, launched a service from the right of the net and there was Herrera — in perfect position for her game-winner.
“We had a lot of people contribute,” added Gary, a member of the DHS 2007 section champions.
Kylie Tierney and Jenna Farboud held sway on the back line and Herrera and Clara Goin were solid at midfield, according to Gary, who ran the show in the absence of head coach Sara Stone.
The Devils should get a first-round home game on Tuesday. Pairings in the 16-team Division I bracket will be announced later this week, according to a section spokesman.
Notes: Davis has won four CIF crowns, mostly recently in 2011. … St. Francis (12-1-7) comes away from the loaded Delta River League in first place. The DRL has but one team — Folsom — with a losing record. The Troubadours and defending champion St. Mary’s of Stockton (18-4-3), from the Tri-City Athletic League, should get the top two seeds in the section tourney. … The finals are May 18 either at Cosumnes Oaks High or Lincoln of Stockton (home field advantage goes to highest remaining seed if one team from the north and one from the south remain).