Local soccer, hoops teams punch tickets to CIF semifinal playoffs


Janneth Barajas scored the game-winning goal for top-seeded Castle Park in its 1-0 victory over eighth-seeded Mountain Empire in Friday's San Diego Section Division IV girls soccer quarterfinal playoff game. Photo by Phillip Brents

South County schools look to be fairly well represented when the San Diego Section holds its semifinal playoffs early next week.

After results from this weekend’s quarterfinal round, eight girls basketball teams, five girls soccer teams, four boys soccer teams and four boys basketball teams from local schools have punched their tickets to the semifinals.

Semifinals in boys basketball are Tuesday, Feb. 27, and Wednesday, Feb. 28, while semifinals in girls soccer are Tuesday, Feb. 27. Semifinals in girls basketball are Feb. 27 and Feb. 28, and Feb. 28 for boys soccer.

Championship games are the following weekend.

The Eastlake High School girls soccer team became the first Metro team to secure a berth in the semifinals when it defeated visiting La Jolla, 3-1, in an Open Division quarterfinal game on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

The fourth-seeded Lady Titans (17-5-3) are the highest remaining seeded team in the division after the top three seeded teams all suffered upset losses in the quarterfinals.

Eastlake will face eighth-seeded West Hills (10-10-4) in Tuesday’s semifinal match after the Lady Wolf Pack upset top-seeded Torrey Pines, 1-0, on a goal by Maliah Wirsig and a seven-save shutout performance by Makenzie Hildreth.

The Lady Titans will host the semifinal match. Game time is 5 p.m. on the EHS campus.

Seventh-seeded Steele Canyon (11-6-6) will play at sixth-seeded Poway (14-5-4) for the right to meet either Eastlake or West Hills in the division final.

Eastlake won last year’s Division I championship and will now be looking to capture a rare championship double this season.

The Open Division championship game is scheduled March 2 at 5 p.m. at Mission Bay High School.

The Lady Titans are joined by four other local teams in the semifinals.

Castle Park, top-seeded in Division IV, rode Janneth Barajas’ goal in the second minute of second half play and the solid goalkeeping of Sharon Montoya to a 1-0 quarterfinal win over visiting Mountain Empire on Friday.

The Lady Trojans (15-6-4) will host fifth-seeded Ramona (11-12-3) on Tuesday. Game time is 5 p.m.

The Lady Bulldogs upset fourth-seeded Brawley (12-7-2) by a 1-0 score on Friday.

The winner advances to the division championship game on March 3. Kick-off is 11 a.m. at La Jolla High School.

“We definitely had our problems with them,” Castle Park head coach Victor Vargas said in regard to the reigning Citrus League champions. “They were strong. They were fast. They were physical. They dominated huge parts of the first half. It was difficult to contain them. We struggled against them.”

The Lady Red Hawks entered the game with a 16-2-2 record and a 3-1 opening round victory over ninth-seeded Imperial. They played up to their record and would likely have broken the game open early if not for the heroics of Montoya.

Castle Park goalkeeper Sharon Montoya was credited with five saves in posting Friday’s 1-0 shutout victory against visiting Mountain Empire. Photo by Phillip Brents

The Castle Park goalkeeper, who was credited with five saves in the match, made a dramatic flying save across the goalmouth with six minutes left in a scoreless first half to deny Mountain Empire’s Veronica Rodriguez the go-ahead goal.

Montoya came up with a less spectacular save to deny Rodriguez again in the final minute of first-half play.

While the Lady Trojans proved slow starters, they began to pick up the pace midway through the first half and controlled play for most of the second half in building a 1-0 advantage on the scoreboard.

Castle Park pounced on what proved to be its one golden scoring opportunity in the early moments of the second half as both teams were settling into positional play.

Barajas ran onto a long through ball from teammate Aurora Segura, beat the Mountain Empire defense, then sidestepped the Lady Red Hawk goalkeeper to face a wide open net.

Barajas dibbled the ball a few feet past the Mountain Empire goalkeeper, then pushed the ball into the open net for what would be the game’s lone goal.

“It was shocking to me that they left their goalkeeper unprotected,” Barajas said. “I knew it was going in; there was no way I was going to miss that.”

Given an emotional lift by the 1-0 lead, Castle Park became the dominant team for most of the second half.

But the last 10 minutes the momentum shifted back to Mountain Empire. The Lady Red Hawks began to persistent attacks — one of which nearly paid dividends.

A Mountain Empire player managed to break through the CP defense for a one-on-one challenge against Montoya in stoppage time.

Montoya came off her line to cut down the angle, forcing the Lady Red Hawk player to place her shot just wide of the post.

It was the best scoring chance of the game for Mountain Empire.

“We had one clear chance and we put ours away,” Vargas said. “It wasn’t our best game but we found a way to win.”

In the playoffs, that’s all that counts. Just win, baby.

Castle Park’s Yered Quevedo and Mountain Empire’s AnnaBelle Braswell vie for possession of the ball in Friday’s playoff match. Photo by Phillip Brents


Getting their kicks
In other semifinal games scheduled for Tuesday:

  • Sixth-seeded Olympian (15-7-5) will play at second-seeded El Camino (13-4-3) in a Division II match. The winner will face either top-seeded Our Lady of Peace (19-1-2) of fifth-seeded Mission Hills (13-4-6) in the division final March 3 at 4:30 p.m. at La Jolla High School.
  • Third-seeded Mater Dei Catholic (14-5-2) will host seventh-seeded High Tech High San Diego (11-8-2) in a Division IV contest. The winner will face the Castle Park-Ramona winner in the division final.
  • Fourth-seeded Sweetwater (9-9-2) will play at top-seeded High Tech High North County (14-4-2) in a Division V encounter. The winner will advance to the division final March 2 at 7:30 p.m. at La Jolla High School.

Olympian upset third-seeded Del Norte, 2-1, in Friday’s quarterfinals on a pair of second-half goals by Shi’anne Swift. Swift leads the Lady Eagles in scoring this season with 17 goals.

Mater Dei Catholic defeated sixth-seeded Calexico, 3-2, on Friday while Sweetwater stopped Liberty Charter, 1-0, on the strength of a second-half penalty kick goal by Lizete Bustos.

Bustos scored with eight minutes left in the game. Ella Surposa recorded the shutout victory.

Mater Dei Catholic, which finished 5-3-2 in South Bay League play, built a 2-1 first-half edge over Calexico. Both teams scored one goal in the second half.

Game time for all semifinal matches is 5 p.m.

One area team saw its season end in Friday’s quarterfinal round as sixth-seeded River Valley (13-6-1) defeated third-seeded Chula Vista Learning Community, 2-1, in a Division V matchup. The game was decided in a shootout, with River Valley winning 4-3 in the tiebreaker.

The Cobras finished the season 7-6-3.



Boys basketball
Six Metro Conference teams were in on court action in Friday’s quarterfinals — three advanced to next week’s semifinals.

  • Fifth-seeded Mater Dei Catholic (24-6) will play at top-seeded Foothills Christian (25-5) in a high profile Open Division matchup on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The winner will play either third-seeded Mission Bay (25-5) or second-seeded Torrey Pines (28-2) in the championship game March 2 at 8 p.m. at SDSU’s Viejas Arena.
  • Fifth-seeded Otay Ranch (18-10) will host ninth-seeded Francis Parker (12-12) in a Division II contest on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The winner will play either second-seeded Christian (20-8) or third-seeded Bishop’s (17-10) in the division final on March 3 at 8 p.m. at San Marcos High School.
  • Third-seeded Southwest (15-12) will play at second-seeded Escondido Charter (13-12) in a Division V pairing on Tuesday, Feb. 27. The winner advances to the division championship game on March 1 at 7 p.m. at La Costa Canyon High School.
  • Fifth-seeded San Diego Academy (14-12) will play top-seeded The Cambridge School (17-1) in the other half of the Division V semifinal pairing.

Mesa League champion Mater Dei Catholic won its 11th consecutive game by defeating fourth-seeded San Marcos, 57-42, in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Otay Ranch knocked off fourth-seeded Westview, 70-65, while Southwest romped past 11th-seeded Del Lago Academy 76-39.

There were some definite tough luck losers on Friday.

Top-seeded Montgomery (23-6) fell behind Francis Parker and was unable to make up a five-point difference in the late going in falling 80-76.

It was the Lancers’ second consecutive upset win after previously topping eighth-seeded Serra, 61-49, in Tuesday’s opening round.

Fifth-seeded Olympian (15-15) came up six points short in its quarterfinal match up at fourth-seeded Hoover, losing 61-55.

Hoover (19-9) will face top-seeded Mount Miguel (28-4) in a semifinal matchup on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Eleventh-seeded Eastlake (15-15) fell 11 points shy in a 56-45 loss at Bishop’s to end its season.

Victorious Sweetwater players salute their fans following Saturday’s 3-2 quarterfinal playoff win over the Mission Vista Timberwolves. Photo by Phillip Brents

Boys soccer

Sweetwater uses second-half surge to turn back upset-minded Timberwolves

If soccer is considered the beautiful game, Sweetwater High School boys coach David Lopez had another vision of it after watching the first half of Saturday’s Division IV quarterfinal playoff match against the seventh-seeded Mission Vista Timberwolves at Gail Devers Stadium in National City.

“The first half on our part was not so great,” Lopez conceded. “I think the talk we had with the team at halftime got the players’ confidence up. We turned in around. We’re now looking forward to the semifinals.”

Sweetwater’s Michael Vallejo brings the ball back into the attach during first-half action. Photo by Phillip Brents

The second-seeded Red Devils bounced back from 1-0 deficit with three unanswered goals but still had to sweat out the final 15 minutes after the speedy and skilled Timberwolves drew one goal back and applied continued offensive pressure in an attempt to tie the match and send it into overtime.

Sweetwater (15-5-2) will host sixth-seeded Central Union (17-6-1) on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The winner advances to the division championship game on March 3 at La Jolla High School.

Central Union shut out third-seeded El Cajon Valley, 3-0, in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

The Devils had to fend off an upset bid by Mission Vista (6-11-2) on their own home turf in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

The hosts wasted two glorious scoring opportunities midway through the first half, including one shot that glanced off the post, only to see Mission Vista take a 1-0 lead with 10 minutes to play in the half on a diving header by junior Brandon Barta.

Sweetwater, the runner-up team in this year’s South Bay League standings, leveled the score, 1-1, when speedy and talented winger Jehova Torres scored with three minutes left in the opening half.

Jehova Torres (17) celebrates his game-tying goal late in the first half with teammates. Photo by Phillip Brents

The teams then separated for halftime breakdowns.

The Devils returned to the pitch and scored on two defensive breakdowns by the Timberwolves to take a 3-1 lead in the match.

Torres scored his second consecutive goal of the match barely three minutes into the second half to give SuHi a 2-1 lead.

Mario Rubio ran onto a through ball from Torres in midfield and then deftly out-maneuvered the Mission Vista goalkeeper to score into an open net with 23 minutes to play in the second half.

3-1 Sweetwater.

Sweetwater’s Mario Rubio scores into an open net to give the host Red Devils a 3-1 lead. Photo by Phillip Brents

However, when Mission Vista senior Liam Armitage scored on a direct free kick with 15 minutes left, it was suddenly a game again.

The Devils created two golden scoring opportunities to put the game away with just more than 10 minutes remaining in regulation play but each time got a little too cute with fancy footwork inside the penalty area to lose control of the ball.

The attack-minded Timberwolves were more than happy to regain control of the ball and quickly fling it up field.

The final 10 minutes was tense for players, coaches and fans on both sides of the pitch.

The Devils had another missed chance to put the game away with four minutes to play; the missed opportunity only served to fuel Mission Vista’s determined comeback.

But the whistle finally sounded to cheers from Sweetwater players and fans.

Sweetwater HIgh School soccer players honored the memory of the late Laura Charles, a teacher at the National City school for 46 years. Photo by Phillip Brents

In a show of school spirit and reverence, Red Devil players gathered behind a sign that read “We Love You Mrs. Charles” following the ceremonial handshakes.

The gesture was a tribute to longtime Sweetwater music/drama teacher Laura Charles, who passed away the previous day.

She had worked at the National City school for 46 years.

In other semifinal matches on Wednesday, Feb. 28:

Eighth-seeded Chula Vista (12-10-3) will host 12th-seeded Calexico (14-6-3) in a Division II match after both teams pulled off bit upsets in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Third-seeded Otay Ranch (15-1-4) will play at second-seeded University City (14-3-3) in a Division III game.

Seventh-seeded High Tech High Chula Vista (10-11-1) will play at third-seeded Vincent Memorial (13-1-3) in a Division V match.

Chula Vista stunned top-seeded Southwest, 1-0, while Calexico shut out fourth-seeded Castle Park 3-0.

South Bay League champion Otay Ranch edged 11th-seeded Patrick Henry, 2-1,

High Tech High CV also pulled off a quarterfinal upset by defeating second-seeded Calvary Christian (15-4-1) by a score of 3-0.

In quarterfinal matches scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 24:

Division I:
(8) Montgomery (5-12-3) at (1) St. Augustine (7-6-4), 2 p.m.
Result: St. Augustine 1, Montgomery 0

Division II
(8) Chula Vista (11-10-3) at (1) San Diego Southwest (17-5-3), 5 p.m.
(12) Calexico (14-6-3) at (4) Castle Park (11-8-4), 5 p.m.
Chula Vista 1, Southwest 0
Calexico 3, Castle Park 0

Division III
(11) Patrick Henry (7-9-4) at (3) Otay Ranch (14-1-4), 5 p.m.
Result: Otay Ranch 2, Patrick Henry 1

Division IV
(7) Mission Vista (6-10-2) at (2) Sweetwater (14-5-2), 5 p.m.
Result: Sweetwater 3, Mission Vista 2

Division V
(2) Calvary Christian (15-3-1) vs, (7) High Tech High Chula Vista (9-11-1) at Sweetwater Lane Sports Complex, 2 p.m.
Result: High Tech High Chula Vista 3, Calvary Christian 0


Bonita Vista’s Shyla LaTone was relentless in the second half of Saturday’s quarterfinal playoff game against visiting Rancho Bernardo, scoring 34 points to lead her team to a dramatic 59-47 come-from-behind victory. Photo by Phillip Brents

Girls basketball

Top-seeded Lady Barons post 59-47 comeback win over Lady Broncos

The top-seeded Bonita Vista High School girls basketball team will advance another round in the Division I playoffs but there were some doubts at halftime when the Lady Barons trailed the ninth-seeded Rancho Bernardo Lady Broncos 25-20.

The Lady Broncos appeared to have the right defensive game plan to neutralize BV scoring standout Shyla LaTone. Using a superior height advantage, Rancho Bernardo capitalized on its scoring opportunities.

But the Lady Barons regrouped at halftime — and LaTone found her scoring touch again in the second half. The result was a 59-47 win for Bonita Vista (25-6) and a date in next Tuesday’s division semifinals (Feb, 27) against fourth-seeded Scripps Ranch (19-7). Tip-off is 7 p.m. at BVHS.

The winner of Tuesday’s semifinal game advances to the Division I championship game March 2 at SDSU’s Viejas Arena.

“It was a tough game because Rancho Bernardo came out with a great game plan,” BVHS coach Tristan Lamb explained after the game. “They closed down the middle where we like to run. We did a good job coming out in the second half. Shyla made some adjustments to her game. The shots started going in. She was able to get her scoring touch back.”

The Lady Barons almost immediately tied the game after coming back to the court for second-half play. But the Lady Broncos (21-8) once again pulled ahead on the scoreboard.

Bonita Vista’s Shyla LaTone concentrates on nailing a free throw attempt during the late stages of Saturday’s playoff game. Photo by Phillip Brents

The hosts regained the lead on a series of well-time defensive plays – and well-timed baskets by the team’s depth players.

LaTone may be the team’s resident superstar but she doesn’t do everything.

Buckets by Madison Pacini and Anneth Grijalba helped push Bonita Vista ahead, then LaTone put on a show to allow the Lady Barons to pull away.

Bonita Vista led 44-33 at the end of the third quarter on the strength of a torrid 24-8 scoring run.

However, Pacini suffered a leg injury just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter. Instead of wilt on the court due to the loss of a key player, BV team members picked up the slack and zeroed in on the win.

Back-to-back lay-ins by LaTone made the score 50-33. The home fans were roaring at this point.

Bonita Vista’s Isabel Rector then sank a three-point shot from the perimeter and the Lady Barons led 53-38.

But Rancho Bernardo quickly got back in the game, trailing by eight points with less than three minutes to play. The host led 57-46 with 2:02 left in the fourth quarter.

A pair of free throws by Grijlaba made the score 59-46 with 1:18 to play – and the home fans could breathe a lot easier.

The Lady Barons played keep away the last half-minute of the contest to secure the playoff win.

Bonita Vista out-scored the Lady Broncos 39-21 in the second half.

LaTone led all scorers in the game with 34 points. Grijalba dropped in 12 points to aid the winning effort.

Rancho Bernardo’s scoring leaders included Acacia Denton with 19 points and Lauren Reynolds with 14 points. Reynolds was the team’s scoring leader during the regular season.

Scripps Ranch advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals with a 48-32 win over fifth-seeded Bishop’s. Macie Kinne led the Lady Falcons with 16 points while teammate Kayla Williams added 15 points. Virali Patel collected 13 points in the win for Scripps Ranch, the runner-up in City Western League play this season.

The second half of Tuesday’s semifinal bracket will feature an all-Mesa League matchup between the second-seeded Eastlake Lady Titans (21-6) and third-seeded Mater Dei Catholic Lady Crusaders (18-12).

Eastlake will host the game, starting at 7 p.m.

The Lady Titans eliminate seventh-seeded Poway, 57-43, while the Lady Crusaders defeated 11th-seeded Mira Mesa 62-45.

Eastlake received double-digit scoring from three players: Auren Isaacson (17 points), Kalah Bateman (14 points) and Haylee Owen (14 points).

Poway freshman Colby Neal led all scorers in the game with 18 points. Poway finished the season 17-11.

Bonita Vista, Eastlake and Mater Dei Catholic were among six South County girls basketball teams to post victories in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Third-seeded Montgomery topped 11th-seeded University City, 49-46, in a Division II matchup while fourth-seeded Otay Ranch bested 12th-seeded Steele Canyon, 61-46, in a Division III encounter.

Seventh-seeded Castle Park (15-11) grabbed a key road win with a 46-41 upset victory at second-seeded St. Joseph Academy (19-5).

Third-seeded Mar Vista (20-6) hosted 11th-seeded Valhalla (5-16) on Saturday, with no score reported at press time.

In upcoming semifinals:

Montgomery (17-10) will play at second-seeded Olympian (15-12) on Tuesday, Feb. 27. The winner advances to the Division II championship game on March 2 at Viejas Arena.

Otay Ranch (16-14) will play at top-seeded Escondido Adventist Academy (27-1) on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The winner advances to the Division III championship game on March 3 San Marcos High School.

Castle Park will play at Mar Vista (21-6) on Wednesday, Feb. 28, after the Lady Mariners defeated visiting Valhalla, 54-22, on Saturday. The championship game is scheduled March 3 at San Marcos High School.

Tip-off for all semifinal games is 7 p.m.


In quarterfinal games scheduled on Saturday, Feb. 24:

Division I
(9) Rancho Bernardo (21-7) at (1) Bonita Vista (24-6), 7 p.m.
(11) Mira Mesa (12-7) at (3) Mater Dei Catholic (17-12), 7 p.m.
(7) Poway (17-10) at (2) Eastlake (20-6), 7 p.m.
Bonita Vista 59, Rancho Bernardo 47
Mater Dei Catholic 62, Mira Mesa 45
Eastlake 57, Poway 43

Division II
(11) University City (18-11) at (3) Montgomery (16-10), 7 p.m.
Result: Montgomery 49, University City 46

Division III
(12) Steele Canyon (16-8) at (4) Otay Ranch (15-14), TBA
Result: Otay Ranch 61, Steele Canyon 46

Division IV
(11) Valhalla (5-16) at (3) Mar Vista (20-6), 7 p.m.
(7) Castle Park (14-11) at (2) St. Joseph’s Academy (19-4), 5 p.m.
Castle Park 46, St. Joseph Academy 41



  1. Please stop sticking “Lady” in front of all the girls ream names. These are young athletes just like regular people and need not be given ancient tags from the 50’s indicating they demurely cross their legs at the ankles. They are young women who train hard to win. Just refer to them as women for crying out loud. It’s 2018’ era of badass women athletes, not “Lady” whatever. Thanks.