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Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Montgomery solidifies No. 1 in California

By Harold Abend
Special to ESPN RISE

Playing in its ninth consecutive North Coast Section championship, the Montgomery Viking girls from Santa Rosa turned the tables on two time defending champion Petaluma Casa Grande, defeating the Gauchos 2-1 on a bitter cold night at Santa Rosa High.

The ESPN RISE High School Soccer FAB 50 No. 22 ranked Vikings (22-2-1) got both goals from sophomore striker Ashley Cella.

They also played superlative defense, allowing FAB 50 No. 41 Casa Grande only a handful of shots on goal, all easily handled by senior Dominican University (San Rafael) bound goalkeeper Megan Herring.

Both Montgomery goals came on corner kicks earned by Juliana Kelm. The second, after Casa Grande tied the game on a penalty kick with 13:30 remaining.

"Juliana knows corner kicks are golden," said Montgomery Coach Pat McDonald who's had the Vikings in the title game each of his nine years at the helm.

The first goal came after Cella took the ball away from the defender trying to clear it and shot it just inches inside the left post.

Her second goal outdid the first.

"Ashley's second goal was unbelievable," continued McDonald. "Mackenzie Komrij served a beautiful ball."

With 2:30 left on the clock, Komrij hit the spot on a line and Cella jumped up and headed it in over the outstretched arms of the Casa Grande keeper and less the a foot under the crossbar.

After injury time was added the Vikings used defense to kill the final four-and-a-half minutes.

Throughout the contest Montgomery controlled the pace and the touches while Casa Grande had trouble advancing the ball past midfield.

The Viking girls now claim their fourth NCS title in the nine years under McDonald.

"I've had some great teams but no team loved each other more than this team. Even thorough all the injuries and swine flu," McDonald told ESPN RISE.

Coming into the week Montgomery was the No. 2 team in California behind FAB 50 No. 21 Santa Rosa Maria Carrillo.

Carrillo, who beat the Vikings 1-0 this season, and owns two NCS titles, both in victories over Montgomery, fell 2-0 to Casa Grande in the semifinals.

"We've had a home-and-home with Alta (FAB 50 No. 28 from Sandy, Utah) for the past five years, and when we beat them 1-0 this year here and Megan shut them out, I knew with her as keeper this group was very capable."

Herring only allowed eight goals all season.

Casa Grande (15-3-3) ends the season with all its losses coming to Montgomery, after falling twice previously by 1-0 scores.