Webb girls soccer makes school history by claiming CIF title

Vivian Webb girls varsity soccer team celebrates with hugs and cheers after defeating Arrowhead Christina in the Division 6 CIF-Southern Section championship game on Saturday at Faculty Field in Claremont. In a thrilling game the Gauls edged past the Eagles, 3-2, for the victory and the title. COURIER photo/Andrew Alonzo.

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

In front of hundreds of supporters at Faculty Field on Saturday, the Vivian Webb School girl’s varsity soccer team made history after the team defeated Arrowhead Christian, 3-2, in a thrilling Division 6 CIF-Southern Section final.

The win was also the Gauls first ever CIF title, a feat Head of Schools Taylor Stockdale said was “monumental.”

“It’s such an incredible victory from a team that has so much class and from a coach who is so philosophically centered in the school’s mission, it just means the world to our school,” Stockdale said. “I think this is going to be a great signal statement to other athletes who are looking at other big schools. Maybe they should look at Webb because we actually have a pretty incredible athletic program to pair with our academic program. [Webb Athletics] is not as well known, but something like this will put us on the map.”

The final pitted the number one seeded Eagles against the number two seeded Gauls and the game could not have been any tighter throughout its 80-minute duration.

The scoring opened up within three minutes of the first half when Webb senior forward Taren Duffy pounced on a loose ball in the Eagles’ half and laid it off to junior forward Abbey Cook, who took it past one defender and slotted the ball in the bottom right corner of the net. The Eagles tried stirring up offensive trouble of their own but the Gauls stood firm and rode the 1-0 score into halftime.

During the second half, however, both teams increased their intensity and aggression, which resulted in the score line exploding open.

Just four minutes and thirty seconds into the second half, Eagles’ sophomore forward Madeline Hood got in behind the Gauls’ defensive line after a long ball from her defense. In an act of defensive desperation, two Gauls defenders attempted to block Hood’s shot but took out the Eagles’ forward in the process. After the referees deliberated for a minute, the Eagles were awarded a penalty kick, which sophomore midfielder Laney Herrero converted.

The score remained 1-1 for 21 minutes until a foul on freshman midfielder Ava Darby resulted in a free kick opportunity for Webb. Sophomore defender Reagan Ollivierre floated in a high cross that Duffy took down and smacked hard and true into the bottom left corner putting Webb ahead, 2-1.

However, the Gauls lead lasted about two and a half minutes as freshman forward Amelie Cadavid drove down the right wing and smashed the ball into the near post of Sienna Gomez’s net, leveling the game again for the Eagles.

With the game so evenly matched, particularly in the midfield, it was going to take something special from either team to snag the victory.

“Especially when it’s 2-2, I looked back at the clock and saw it’s five minutes left, I just kind of mentally said to myself ‘I’m going to score in the next five minutes because this game is not going into overtime,’” Cook said.

With 4:20 minutes left on the clock, Cook received the ball in Eagles’ territory and hit a miracle strike from about 30 yards out, which dipped at the right time to fall perfectly between the outstretched hand of the Eagles’ goalkeeper and the crossbar, sending fans and the Gauls’ bench into a frenzy.

“To be honest, I didn’t know where it was going to go,” Cook replied when asked if she knew she’d make that shot. “I was just like, let me hit it hard and out of reach of the goalie and hopefully it hits the back of the net. And it did.”

Cook’s strike was the deciding factor as the Eagles failed to get through the Gauls’ defense again in the time that remained.

The win capped off a perfect season for the Gauls, who are 18-0 overall following Saturday’s win. The team swept league competition, 8-0, scooping up the San Joaquin League title, which includes Division 4 opposition, St. Margaret’s of San Juan Capistrano.

While Cook has been the heartbeat of the team, according to head coach Malick Mbengue, it hass taken all 22 players on the roster to manage a perfect season as their style of play demands teamwork.

“What’s been our model is playing as a team, even though we have the talented players, having everybody connect and play for each other and play with each other …” has been the difference according to Mbengue, who has been with the team for five seasons. “It’s not over yet, we still have a few games in regional next week so the mentality is to just keep doing what you’re doing.”

The number one seed Gauls were awarded a first-round bye in the CIF-Southern Section regional championship and will be back in action on Thursday at home to play the winner of Tuesday’s game between Mount Miguel High School and Girls Academic Leadership Academy.

For bracket information, visit https://www.cifstate.org/sports/soccer/scr_champ_info and choose 2022 SoCal brackets.


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