by Josh Morgan
There are so many ways to describe the Las Lomas boys soccer team’s amazing season, but despite a league championship win and an appearance in the Northern California semifinal, there is one thing that the players and fans will remember for years to come: for the first time since 2007; Las Lomas is the NCS Champion.
“It’s a great feeling knowing that all of our hard work paid off,” said senior goalkeeper Noah Rosen. Rosen played in the Knights’ NCS semifinal loss last year against Richmond, and used the loss as motivation this season. “After last year’s loss, I promised myself that I would do everything I can to help bring a title back to Las Lomas, and it’s a good feeling knowing we could do that, especially in the senior’s last season.”
The Knights started off the season with an incredible 15 straight wins. Their first loss came by a score of 2-1 against Ygnacio Valley. Ygnacio Valley scored on a penalty kick to take the lead that would eventually win them the game. Rosen guessed the right way, but the winning goal barely flew past his outstretched arms.
The team rebounded with a win over American Canyon but tied their very next league game against College Park. A league title that was almost a guarantee was now in jeopardy. However, the team won their next game against Alhambra, and then faced Acalanes in a game that would likely decide the league championship. After a hard-fought defensive game, junior defender Martín Jimenez scored on an incredible free kick that Rosen cites as one of his favorite moments of the season.
They then played Benicia on their senior night with a chance to clinch the league championship, but the game was stopped in the first minute after a violent collision between senior striker Colby Allard and the Benicia goalkeeper. The game would eventually be postponed, and despite an easy Las Lomas win, they were faced with the loss of one of their best players for the rest of the season.
The team was given the #1 seed in NCS, and cruised through their first three games with wins over Alameda (2-0), Bishop O’Dowd (3-0), and Newark Memorial (3-1). They then had the championship game at home against Redwood. The Knights took a 1-0 lead on a header from senior defender Saul Bronstone before allowing an equalizer on a collective defensive lapse. The Knights took back the lead with another Bronstone header, and now had that one goal lead to protect in order to win NCS.
Bronstone admitted that the team didn’t play very well in the game’s final 40 minutes. “We were playing survival in the second half,” he said. However, the team was able to hang on to their lead and win NCS, in large part to a remarkable penalty kick save from Rosen. The save will surely go down as one of the clutchest moments in Las Lomas soccer history.
“I was just ready for the next play,” said Rosen. “Thank you to (junior defender Kirk Wilson) for clearing it after I saved it because it really would have sucked if they scored on the rebound.” The Knights played out the final minutes of the game, and the fans then stormed the field as their team had finally brought the NCS title back to Las Lomas.
Sophomore midfielder Hadi George, who had to move to striker in order to fill in for Allard’s absence, says the team rallied around his injury. “Due to Colby’s absence, we had to step up and work together as a team, and it led to us winning NCS and making history here,” said George.
The team then made an appearance in the state championship tournament, and won their first game against Menlo-Atherton before losing 1-0 against eventual state champion Sanger in the semifinal game. However, after accomplishing their main goal of winning NCS, the team wasn’t too upset about losing in state.
“Not many Las Lomas teams can say they even reached state, so it was a good way to wrap up the season even though we didn’t win it,” said Rosen.
Even though the team will be losing a number of key seniors next year, George still thinks the Knights can be competitive and make another deep postseason run.
“We’re losing our two varsity goalkeepers and they’re irreplaceable,” said George. “Same thing with “Saul the Wall”. We’re also losing Joey and Colby and that’s a tough blow to the team, but we’re gonna step up. We’ll train hard and try to win it all next year too.”
Even though they may still be good next year, George knows that this team was a very special one.
“The team chemistry we have is unbreakable. That’s what I think got us as far as we did. We’re a unit. This is a brotherhood. There probably isn’t gonna be a team like this in Las Lomas history ever again.”