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Bishop’s girls soccer in position to retain championship title

Twelve weeks is a long time to go without a defeat, especially in the scope of a relatively short high school soccer season. But the girls soccer team from The Bishop’s School is poised to do just that, and if the Knights can accomplish the feat, they will have also realized their goal of winning a section championship.

Bishop’s is perhaps the best team this winter from any sport at any of La Jolla’s three high schools, having entered the week of Feb. 25 riding a 15-game winning streak. The Knights hadn’t lost since Dec. 7, and carried a 15-3-1 record into their biggest game this season.

Bishop’s entered the CIF-San Diego Section Division IV playoffs as the bracket’s No. 1 seed. After a 6-1 win over High Tech in the first round and a 6-0 victory over Holtville in the quarterfinals. The Knights then went on to beat Santa Fe Christian 4-0 in the semifinals on Feb. 26. That win sends the Knights to the March 1 section championship game for the second straight season, to face Coronado.

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Last year, Bishop’s advanced to the final and kicked to a scoreless tie with Francis Parker - because the section does not employ shootouts in championship games, the teams were declared co-champions.

“Our goal has been to play in the final, because, win or lose, it’s always exciting to play in the final,” Bishop’s coach Brian Quinn said. “We weren’t disappointed at all with the tie. The way we’ve looked at it is you are the champions until someone beats you. Until someone beats us in a final, we’re the champion.”

Bishop’s has put itself in position to retain its championship by posting some incredible numbers this season, from its 80-plus-day unbeaten streak to its 60 goals scored versus 11 allowed. Individually, junior forward Lindsey Holman Kelley has also put up staggering statistics, with a team-leading 21 goals and 12 assists. But perhaps even more impressive is the Knights’ depth. Five other players have scored at least six goals: Frances Harvey and Kaylie Davidson with 10 each, Annie Kadota with nine, Laura Wyatt with eight and Marjorie Lacombe with six.

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“Lindsey has really come into her own this year,” Quinn said. “The most exciting thing for me is that she’s just a pure soccer player. She does things with the ball that are very, very instinctive. It doesn’t matter who she’s playing against. She definitely played well as a freshman and sophomore but scoring goals emphasizes the talent she has.”

Hannah Brown has been a stone wall in goal, having allowed just four goals while registering nine shutouts, and even when she missed some early-season games with a shoulder injury, Christi Rodriguez stepped in and gave the Knights five shutout efforts. The defense has been solid as well. “On the defensive side, we’ve had five of the six girls together for three years, so there’s nothing new for them,” Quinn said. “We’ve got a good group of kids all the way through, so when we get a little injury or an illness, there’s always someone who can fill the gap - we really haven’t missed a beat all season.”

Bishop’s lost its first three games of the season, to Poway, Carlsbad and Cathedral Catholic. Quinn knew, though, when he scheduled those games, that all three teams were bigger and better than his club, and he hoped the challenge would serve his team well.

He was also correct in guessing that he would be missing some of his key athletes for the first few weeks of the season as they finished up their volleyball, field hockey and cross country seasons, so didn’t panic at the 0-3 start. He said it didn’t take long once his team was fully assembled and had weathered its early-season test that the unit started to click.

“The kids started coming together, and we haven’t lost since then,” Quinn said with a laugh. “The kids have been playing very good soccer. I told them back then that they were the best 0-3 team in the county, and I really believed that.”