Davis High boys soccer coach Alex Park couldn’t have scripted a better game on Thursday to send the Blue Devils into their Saturday night showdown against Jesuit.
Playing well on both sides of the ball on Thursday, DHS was nonetheless challenged by a talented Monterey Trail squad in a 3-1 victory.
“It was a very, very good game,” Park said. “Monterey Trail is a very good team and very quick but our defense on the back did a great job and we really moved the ball around on offense.
“This was a confidence builder for us and a great game going into the Jesuit game on Saturday.”
The Devils opened the scoring when Rami Rashmawi found Alex McIntyre with a perfect pass and McIntyre converted to make it 1-0. That’s how the first half would end and, just 10 minutes into the second period, the Mustangs tied things up.
With both teams playing good soccer, neither found the net until Alex Raya set up D.J. Villegas in the 80th minute for the first of his two late goals. Coming off of an injury, Villegas “looked amazing,” according to Park.
For the Blue Devils on Thursday, it was second verse, same as the first.
Beginning its second pass through the Delta Valley Conference at Monterey Trail, after easing through the first round undefeated, DHS knocked off the Mustangs, 8-1.
In singles play, Cat Pat U and Ceci Cajandig posted, 6-0, 6-0 victories at the top two spots with Kelly Chuck, Angela Donahue and Bailey Gary adding wins.
The three locals duos swept the doubles competition as Jasmin Mould/Cat Archer and Aydan Prim/Kiki Tanaka won in straight sets and Michelle Bacigalupi teamed with Danielle Neman to capture a pro set, 8-5.
A game like Wednesday’s 23-2 win over Franklin at Wackford Pool in Elk Grove isn’t going to get them prepared for the playoffs, but there is always value for the Blue Devils in showing off their depth and just having a little fun.
DHS’ starters were impressive early in the contest, then it was time to find some of the Devils’ hidden gems off the bench. One gem who sparkled brightly was Larell Cato, who is in her first year playing water polo for Davis (8-3).
“She’s played basketball for the past couple of years and decided to give water polo a try. And she’s just been a real joy to have on the team,” Blue Devil coach Doug Wright said after watching Cato score a pair of goals. “Water polo isn’t an easy sport no matter who you are playing against, and Larell has really shown improvement these last five or six weeks.”
Wright also was delighted with the play of goalie Marina Mobley, who spent the whole game in the cage:
“She really played well. She only allowed two goals, had about four or five blocks and had some nice passes on counterattacks.”
Hayley Blackwell, Monica Ferrera and Sia Kokkas were among the other DHS players to shine on Wednesday.
Call it all’s well that ends well.
Blue Devil coach Sandie Marotti-Huckins gave her team a C grade for their play on Wednesday at River Valley, but it was still good enough to produce a 5-0 DHS win.
And the Devils came back to Davis with good taste in their mouths after scoring their final goal with 14 seconds left on what Marotti-Huckins called “a textbook, national-team level” corner play.
On the play, Kylie Drexel and Malia Fujisawa were credited with assists on Kayla Robinson’s tally. Drexel added a goal of her own, but it was juniors Natalie Silver (two goals and an assist), Jade Bugsch (one goal) and Kelly Ragsdale who caught their coach’s eye.
“The junior are really starting to step up and fit into the puzzle and that is really nice to see,” Marotti-Huckins said.
The mentor, who is in her second year at DHS, also had praise for someone else, without whom the locals would not have gotten a win — referee Steve Brown, who Marotti-Huckins called in at the last minute when she got to River Valley and noticed there were no officials. Brown immediately got in his car and drove from Davis to Yuba City, then officiated both the JV and varsity games by himself.
DHS graduate Jalil Anibaba, who plays for Chicago of the MLS, can be seen on NBC on Saturday when his Fire squad takes on the New York Red Bulls at 12:30 p.m.
The two teams are tied for second in the Eastern Conference with 53 points each, as Anibaba has played a team-best 2,598 minutes at defender. He has a goal and an assist in 30 games this season.
The Davis Legacy Heat, a U12 boys soccer team, won three straight games by scores of 4-2, 3-1 and 4-0 to capture the Davis Cup Championship last weekend.
Aiden Doms led the way for the locals, scoring goals in each game, including four in the title match. Davis strikers Bachir Rezagui and Xavier Westworth added powerful goals, while Dominic Cintas, Diego Hernandez, Fernando Marquez, Cade Sanders and Adam Tran played strong in the midfield, contributing many excellent stops and passes.
Lingin Benin, Dominic DeGennaro, Jaden Fix, Brent Lammers and Thomas Venner paced the Heat defense, which blocked nearly every attack. Goalkeeper Kyle Kordana made several diving stops in posting a championship contest shutout.