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Four-peat as RedHawks win D3 title against Yellowjackets
For the third consecutive year, Williams High pushed Colusa to the brink of defeat, but for the third year the RedHawks answered the challenge and conquered the Yellowjackets in the Northern Section Division III girls soccer championship game.
Colusa needed penalty-kick shootouts to beat Williams in the previous two championship games, but claimed a back-and-forth 3-2 victory during regulation on Saturday.
The RedHawks (11-3-1, 5-1) won their sixth section title in the past seven seasons, and the trophy is the fourth in a row for retiring coach Randy Watt — who won a title in each of his four years as head coach. The section championship is the first since Colusa changed its mascot from Redskins to RedHawks.
Williams (6-6-2, 1-3-2) took the lead with 10 minutes remaining in the first half on a long goal by freshman forward Isabel Contreras. Contreras' shot caught in the crosswind and rocketed over Colusa goalkeeper Ashleigh Biggs' head.
After halftime the RedHawks gained the advantage of the eastern goal and quickly capitalized when senior forward Mickie Wilson knocked in a loose ball three minutes into the second half to tie the game 1-1.
"I think our team knew that we could do it, but I was really nervous because this was my first year and that was my first goal so I kind of just stood there for a second like 'did that really happen?,'" Wilson said.
In the 65th minute, Yellowjackets defender Itzel Ramirez slammed into Wilson and both players went to the sideline with injuries, and Ramirez with a yellow card. Senior Sandra MacPherson launched the ensuing free kick into a crowd in front of the goal, and junior midfielder Rebecca Velasquez kicked in the rebound to give the RedHawks their first lead of the game.
Ramirez returned to the field still hobbled and stiffened the middle of the Yellowjackets' defense, but left the game a few minutes later when Colusa freshman forward Samantha Espindola crashed into her.
"I was very impressed, even when (Ramirez) came back in the game hurt, I thought we'd be able to take advantage of that but she got to the ball before (Espindola) and she may be our fastest player," Watt said.
Despite the wind blowing in from the north it favored the eastern goal which gave the RedHawks a definite homefield advantage, according to Watt.
"Their defense really improved, before we could kick over the top and they'd stand and look and we'd run by them and score sometimes," Watt said. "But they were much better and the wind advantage in the second half was the key factor, I think."
The RedHawks added an insurance goal in the 73rd minute when Williams was unable to clear Colusa midfielder Stephanie Munguia's corner kick and MacPherson scored on a rebound, giving the RedHawks a 3-1 lead.
MacPherson's experience in three previous section championship games kept her focused on adding an insurance goal, especially after the previous two title games against the Yellowjackets, she said.
"I knew that it was going to be a very difficult game because I knew Williams was going to come out and play their hardest."
The Yellowjackets went on the attack as time flew off the clock and junior midfielder Celeste Navarro kicked the ball just under the crossbar in the 76th minute to pull Williams within one goal.
With their senior leader on the sideline with a leg covered in already darkening bruises, Williams continued its desperate attack on the Colusa goal. Freshman forward Annie Leos just missed wide-left with a shot during injury time and Colusa held on to celebrate on its home field.
"I wanted to be in there and help them out, help them be the champions," Ramirez said. "It sucks but we didn't give up."
Four years ago Watt took over for Rick Colson and put together a 60-6-4 record en route to winning four section titles.
Watt credits the youth soccer program in Colusa and the players dedication to conditioning and hard work in practice for the RedHawks' success on the soccer field.
"I think the first two (titles) are because Rick Colson left me some good players. Last year was a harder year to coach and this year was the hardest year because we had less experience and we moved a lot of people around trying to find the right combination, but we found it," Watt said.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org