Hilltop scores 4-1 victory to retain Metro-Pacific League lead

The Hilltop High School girls soccer team finds itself in a battle for supremacy in the Metro-Pacific League standings this season with west side rival Chula Vista. The Lancers did no harm to their championship chances by defeating host Castle Park, 4-1, on Tuesday in what was essentially a must-win game for the visitors.

The Lancers scored first on a long shot into the upper reaches of the net by Mary Reilly. Hilltop then weathered some tense moments when the Trojans tied the match on a high looping shot by Alynna Navarro.

But minutes later, Hilltop was back in front, 2-1, on a goal by Vanessa Monge. Freshman Brianna Gonzalez increased the Lancer lead to 3-1 late in the first half.

Hilltop scored the lone goal in the second half as Reilly picked up her second of the game.

Gonzalez finished the match with a goal and assist.

The win improved the Lancers to 4-0-1 in league play, 12-6-4 overall, with one league match remaining Thursday against visiting Sweetwater.

The Spartans defeated host Sweetwater, 1-0, on Tuesday to improve to 3-1-1 in league play. Chula Vista (11-8-2 overall) has a chance to tie Hilltop for a co-championship with a victory in its final league game should the Lancers drop their league finale against the Red Devils (1-4 in league, 4-10-1 overall).

The remain in contention with a separation of three standings points behind the Lancers. A win is worth three points in the standings and a tie is worth one point.

Hilltop needs to only tie Sweetwater in Thursday’s game to win this year’s league title outright.

League champions automatically qualify for post-season competition.

Gonzalez, who admitted its been “nerve-racking” as a freshman playing on the varsity team this season, said getting a win Tuesday at Castle Park was “really important” for the team.

“We came in mentally prepared, and got it done,” she said.

The next stop for the Lancers could to be the Division I playoffs. Hilltop entered the week as the last team at the Division I cut-off. However, a win or tie Thursday will enter the Lancers automatically in the playoff draw.

“I’m excited and nervous and thankful to have the opportunity if that happens,” Gonzalez explained.

Chula Vista is ranked third in the Division IV power rankings. In fact, the top four teams in the Division IV power rankings all hail from the Metro Conference. Olympian (14-5-3) holds down the No. 1 power ranking, followed by No. 2 Southwest (12-6-1), Chula Vista and No. 4 Mater Dei Catholic (10-7-3). Mar Vista (10-12-1) ranks 10th in the division.

Sweetwater is 16th in the Division IV power rankings.

Castle Park dropped to 2-3 in league play, 8-10-2 on the season, and looks to have secured a berth in the Division V playoff field. The Trojans entered Tuesday’s match ranked fifth in the division behind Classical Academy (16-1-1), Chula Vista Learning Community Center (10-1), Julian (12-4-2) and Imperial (14-7-4).

Montgomery (7-14) owned the No. 8 ranking position in Division V.

Castle Park coach Victor Vargas said his team is continuing to progress in the right direction. “We had 60 girls come out this season and we filled all three teams — varsity, junior varsity and novice,” he said. “In each of the last two seasons, we’ve doubled our win total. We had two wins two years ago and we had four wins last year, and now we have eight wins this year.”

Standings update:

Metro-Pacific League
Final League Standings

Hilltop Lancers 5-0-1, 16 points
Chula Vista 4-1-1, 13 points
Castle Park 1,5-0, 3 points
Sweetwater 1-5-0, 3 points
Note: Hilltop wins league title

Thursday, Feb. 19
Hilltop 8, Sweetwater 0
Chula Vista 3, Castle Park 1

Tuesday, Feb. 17
Hilltop 4, Castle Park 1
Chula Vista 1, Sweetwater 0

Metro-South Bay League
Final League Standings

Southwest Raiders 5-0-1, 16 points
San Ysidro Cougars 2-2-2, 8 points
Mar Vista Mariners 2-3-1, 7 points
Montgomery Aztecs 1-5-0, 3 points
Note: Southwest wins league title

Thursday, Feb. 19
Montgomery 2, Mar Vista 1
Southwest 1, San Ysidro 1

Tuesday, Feb. 17
Southwest 2, Montgomery 0
Mar Vista 1, San Ysdiro 0

Metro-Mesa League
Final League Standings

Bonita Vista Barons 7-1-0, 21 points
Eastlake Titans 6-1-1, 19 points
Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders 2-5-1, 7 points
Otay Ranch Mustangs 1-4-3, 6 points
Olympian Eagles 1-6-1, 4 points
Note: Bonita Vista wins league title

Thursday, Feb. 19
Eastlake 6, Mater Dei Catholic 0
Bonita Vista 4, Olympian 1

Tuesday, Feb. 17
Mater Dei Catholic 2, Olympian 1
Eastlake 4, Otay Ranch 0