East County Sports

Golden Eagles down Monarchs for title

Monte Vista girls soccer.



Division III: San Pasqual 1, Monte Vista 0

By Ramon Scott

ECS staff writer

DEL CERRO – The San Pasqual Golden Eagles received some extra motivation for its San Diego CIF Division III girls’ championship game against Monte Vista on Friday night in the form of a video pep talk from one of the sport’s all-time greats.

Former World Cup champion and Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Shannon MacMillan, who just happened to be a two-time section division Player of the Year for the Golden Eagles, sent her well wishes to the San Pasqual squad just a couple of days before the team’s 1-0 victory over the Monarchs in the section division final on Thursday night at Patrick Henry High.

Then the team went out and restored the school’s championship history in girls’ soccer by clearly limiting the Monarchs’ scoring chances after senior Diana Mendoza scored the lone tally in the game’s seventh minute.

“(MacMillan) shared with us her mentality and her mindset in big games,” Mendoza said. “Hearing it come from her, one of the greatest players ever, and from our high school, it is really motivating to know that what she accomplished here at San Pasqual is what we set out to do, as well.”

The fourth-seeded Golden Eagles controlled the game early on against the 10th-seeded Monarchs, then thwarted Monte Vista’s best surges toward the goal in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.

Much of the opening minutes were played in the San Pasqual end with Mendoza hitting a perfect bounding ball to knock it past the goalkeeper early in the first half.

The victory gave San Pasqual its first section title in 15 years. The title was the ninth in school history (1986-’90, ’96, 2006-’07), which includes one co-championship.

Golden Eagle senior goalkeeper Lorena Gonzalez stopped four shots and was helped in the back by defenders Amannie Rihan, a senior, and sophomores Sofia Cappelletti, and Sofia Burt.

“(MacMillan) told us to take it to the next level and always keep fighting,” said Rihan, who completed the season with a pair of torn meniscuses in her knees. “After losing in penalty kicks to Oceanside in the (first round) playoffs last season, we were driven to accomplish this goal. We knew we had a good team coming into the season.”

San Pasqual withstood Monte Vista’s second-half efforts then turned the tide and had a couple of chances at an insurance goal.

The Golden Eagles qualified for the postseason in the spring season but had won just eight games over the last two campaigns coming into the full 2021-22 season.

Now, San Pasqual has found its championship tradition once again.

“When I came aboard three years ago I knew this program had a strong history of winning with Shannon and many great players over the years,” said San Pasqual head coach Tony Arnesen, who is also the women’s head coach at San Diego City College. “We just had to establish a culture of winning here once again. I think our hard work showed in our consistency, allowing us to get to this point.”

The Golden Eagles advance to the CIF State division playoffs next.

The CIF Sportsmanship Award winners for the game were Mendoza and Brooklyn Cross, of the Monarchs.

“Diana has been fantastic for us,” Arnesen said. “We usually concede early but getting that first goal from Diana allowed us to move in to take away the strengths of Monte Vista, especially in the midfield where they were so good. We weren’t going to let them back in it. We looked to hunker down some early in the second half.”

San Pasqual won playoff games over Rancho Buena Vista (winning in a shootout after a 2-all overtime draw to reach the final) and Foothills Christian (4-2) in the quarterfinals.

Monte Vista reached the final by defeating Classical Academy, last year’s Division IV champ, 2-0, in the semifinals. The Monarchs were in search of the school’s first-ever section division title in girls’ soccer.

The Monarchs also won playoff games against University City (4-3 in overtime in the quarterfinals) and La Jolla (2-1 in the first round).


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