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Knights girls soccer finishes strong, looks toward postseason

Three long months of hard work have finally come to a close for the girls soccer team at The Bishop’s School, and now the fun begins. The chance to advance deep into the postseason represents everything the Knights have worked for since their first practice together back in November, and they say they’re primed for success as the playoffs begin.

“I think the girls were confident at the beginning of the season, and we really don’t do anything different in the playoffs,” Bishop’s coach Brian Quinn said. “If we don’t win the division title, we’ll be disappointed.”

This is no ordinary team, though. This Knights squad is one of the most complete teams Quinn has ever seen assembled, and the club’s ability to come together has been a large part of its success.

“I just think the kids this year have a better understanding of what I’ve wanted them to do on the field,” Quinn said, “and secondly, and this has been very, very rewarding for me, they have played very good soccer. The only teams I’ve seen this year that have played comparable to the way they’ve played are Torrey Pines and Poway. That’s a big compliment to them.”

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The Knights finished the regular season with a 15-4-4 record and a 6-0-2 mark in league play, good enough to win the Coastal League South title. The Knights’ standout showing earned them the top seed in the CIF-San Diego Section Division IV playoffs, and they were scheduled to host Calvin Christian (2-10-1) in a first-round game on Feb. 21.

The Knights’ toughest competition in the Division IV bracket could come from second-seeded Francis Parker, which went 15-2-5 in the regular season. Horizon Christian, which went 16-5-2, is seeded third, and the fourth seed is Calvin Christian, which compiled a 13-5-1 regular-season mark.

A win in the first round would put Bishop’s in the quarterfinals of the 16-team bracket on Feb. 24. The semifinals are scheduled for Feb. 28, and the championship game will be played March 3 at Torrey Pines High School.

“Those other teams are very, very talented,” Quinn said. “But I know that if we do what we have to do, it will take an extremely good team to beat us.”

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Bishop’s goes into the playoffs with confidence, knowing that it fared well against the bracket’s seeded teams during regular-season play. The Knights beat Francis Parker in the teams’ first meeting and tied the second. Against Horizon Christian, they secured a 3-1 win, kicked to a scoreless tie and lost a tournament game. They did not face Calvin Christian during the regular season.

The Knights have stood out among their peers in Division IV because of their play all over the field. Sophomore Stevie Griglak has played superb defense, while senior Sarah Bromley and junior Ashley Dominguez have led a strong corps of midfielders.

Bromley leads Bishop’s in goals with 13, and is also the team’s assists leader with 19. Junior forward Annie Kadota has 12 goals, and sophomore midfielder Lindsay Holman-Kelley has scored 10 times. Junior defender Laurel Casey owns 15 assists, and Kadota has assisted 10 times.

It also hasn’t hurt the Knights that they have one of the best goalkeeping duos in San Diego County. Senior Gabi Quart and junior Hannah Brown have split time equally in goal, with one keeper playing the first half and the other playing the second half in every game this season.

The pair allowed just 20 goals in 23 games this season, and surrendered just one goal in the team’s eight league contests. That goal came on a penalty kick, and Quart and Brown pieced together a streak of 781 minutes without allowing a goal.

“I don’t know of any teams in the area that could do that, but it’s worked well for us,” Quinn said. “They deserve a lot of credit for what we’ve done.”

Bishop’s had a solid season last year as well, going 13-4-2 in the regular season. The Knights beat Imperial in the first round of the playoffs and topped Horizon Christian in the second round, but ran into a buzzsaw in the semifinals, losing, 1-0, to a La Jolla Country Day team that was stacked with future college players and went on to win the Division IV girls soccer title.

The Knights would like to avoid that fate this year, and they think their road is paved for success.

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“It’s just a matter of playing our own game and doing what we’re capable of doing,” Quinn said. “The kids have done everything I’ve asked. We’ve got a league title, and it would be nice to follow it up with a section championship. Either way, I’m not too concerned. I think the girls will show up ready to play.”