The La Jolla Vikings girls soccer team claimed its first CIF title in seven years on Saturday, March 4 after defeating West Hills 2-1 in the Division Two CIF San Diego championships. Along the way, the La Jolla High School Vikings defeated The Bishop’s School in the quarterfinals before defeating Oceanside High School in the semis. Following the victory, the team advances to the CIF regional girls championships this week.
The team includes:Grace Dessert, Naylea Beltran, Emma McCall-Delgado, Samantha Smigliani, Haley Mossimer, Daisy Hathaway, Maz Desert, Peyton Westwood, Jessica Penner, Charli Davey, Morgan Hansen, Kyra Ferenczy, Hannah Webster, Olivia Riley, Chloe Alexander, Niki Collins, Olivia Doehr and Vanessa Shaffer.
As the March 4 match approached and the gravity of the situation began to sink in, players like senior Emma McCall-Delgado started to feel the pressure, but rose to the occasion. “I personally was so nervous and tense, my coach thought something was wrong with me,” she said. “But once we got on the field and got our first score, 15 minutes into the game, our energy went up. We all got excited and it became a reality that we could actually win, we just had to lock it down.”
McCall-Delgado, 18, scored that first goal, which went unmatched through the first half. But in the second half, West Hills scored one for themselves, and following a “self-goal situation,” the Vikings got another point.
“One of the (West Hills) players tried to play it and scored on herself. It was a bizarre situation. She hit it strangely, and it had a back spin and went back into the goal,” McCall-Delgado explained. “But hey, a goal is a goal – just has to get into the other team’s net.”
The game ended 2-1, and the Vikings were able to take home their first title since 2010. “It was a surprise for all of us, because in the beginning of the season, we didn’t have CIF on our minds. And I’ve been on the team since I was a freshman, and I never thought I would be on a CIF-winning team. It was such a fun, cool experience,” she said.
Vikings coach Kristin Jones, in her 14th season with La Jolla High, said this year’s team was stronger as a whole and focused on the “team” mentality.
“In a lot of seasons past, either the offense or defense stood out, but this year, it was a whole group effort,” Jones said. “We had strong defensive athletics, and offensively, we had a lot of firepower and could score at will against the teams we played. It was about balance, and that made us a hard team to break down. And this year, the girls really wanted to win.”
With heavy reliance on the team’s three seniors – McCall-Delgado, Jessica Penner and Olivia Riley – Jones said the upperclassmen mentored the younger players so they would come together as a team. “If the team plays together and lacks egos, when they get on the field, they are working that much harder for each other,” she said.
Agreeing, McCall Delgado said, “We as a team are so much closer, on and off the field, than in years past. It made a difference … because we know each other, respect each other and can almost predict each other’s next move. We can work together and communicate without talking. During the championships we weren’t talking about ourselves as individuals, we thought and worked together as a team.”
Taking that attitude to the CIF regional girls championships this week, the Vikings took on Clairemont High School March 7. The regional semifinals are March 9 and the finals are March 11, with opponents and locations to be determined.