In the final game of the 2013 girls’ soccer season Thursday night, the Calaveras Redskins defeated arch-rival Bret Harte in Angels Camp to become Mother Lode League champions for the second time in school history.
Tatiana Quintero (10, left) and Rosalva Meza celebrate Quintero's first half goal on Thursday against Bret Harte in Angels Camp. Amy Alonzo Rozak / Union Democrat
Technically they are “co-champions” — the Amador Buffaloes won their matchup Thursday night as well to finish the season tied with the Redskins — but it hardly made a difference to the Calaveras players and coaches celebrating after the game.
“We’ll take it!” said Calaveras head coach Rob Leetham after walking out of a post-game huddle with his Redskins.
The Redskins led 2-0 until Bullfrog midfielder Allie Steele scored for Bret Harte. Steele converted a penalty kick with less than two minutes left to prevent a dreaded shutout on Senior Night.
“It meant a lot to me because it’s never fun getting shutout on your Senior Night,” Steele said of the final home game tradition that honors players graduating at the end of the year, including Steele herself. “All I wanted to do was put it in the net. I didn’t care about it being fancy and I didn’t care about it looking good, I just cared about it going in.”
And in the ball went to give the Bullfrogs an opportunity at a tie with mere seconds left. They would get it back into Calaveras territory but not close enough for a good shot.
Redskin midfielder Kassy Dietle said the late goal by Bret Harte made her “a little bit nervous” but never shook her confidence in her team’s ability to pull out the win with the 2013 MLL title on the line.
“That’s happened to us quite a few times, where the other team gets a PK to tie or win in the last couple of minutes,” said Dietle. “But I knew we had it — I really did.”
Dietle scored the game’s first goal — her third of the season — on a direct kick in the opening three minutes.
“I’m proud of Kassy for that kick,” Leetham said. “She works hard on those and has scored a few goals on them for us this season.”
“She comes through for us every time and never lets us down,” said Redskin forward Tiffany Souza, who scored eight goals and had eight assists this season for Calaveras.
The Redskins scored again at about the 30-minute mark when Calaveras forward Tatiana Quintero ran onto a ball in front of her and put it in the back of the net for what became the game-winning goal.
Thursday’s win only added to Leetham’s already successful inaugural season as head coach of varsity girls’ soccer at Calaveras, which he credits to the talent on the field.
“A first-year varsity coach could never inherit a better group of girls,” he said. “They’re great girls on and off the field and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Leetham said Calaveras sophomore Kristin Kruenegel impressed him on defense, especially considering she’s been at the defender position on varsity in only one other game.
“Our defenders never get the credit they deserve, but she played another awesome game tonight and is just a natural on defense,” Leetham said. “Also, my daughter, Jordyn (Leetham) is a natural leader back there and I’m definitely proud of her.”
And despite a tough loss, Bullfrog head coach Rosie Sundell described Thursday’s Senior Night festivities as a “great celebration.”
“I told our girls we were going to celebrate no matter what,” she said. “It was a lot of fun. The point is for these kids to get through high school, become somebody and do something. And to watch them grow, learn and move on is just really exciting.”
Ten seniors were recognized before the game including Steele, Ana Anderson, Elyse Bailey, Alexus Dommeyer, Conner Eastman, Elaine Jordan, Morgan Lyle, Kellie Olsen, Brittany Schulte and Sally Diamanti-Wilson.
“We’ve played together for four years and they’re some of my best friends,” Steele said of the senior group. “I just wish them luck next year and hope they continue playing soccer.”
The Bullfrogs ended their season with a 2-8-5 MLL record, while Calaveras advanced to 11-1-3 and earned the league’s No. 2 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Championships.
Leetham wasn’t sure whether that meant the Redskins would be playing their first round postseason matchup next Thursday at home or on the road. He said the team will play as hard as ever in the playoffs, but a deep run would be “icing on the cake.”
“We wanted to win the Mother Lode League Championship and we’re honored to share that with Amador,” he said. “That’s just such a thrill alone and we’ll enjoy it until Monday — then we’ll regroup, see who we’re playing Thursday and go from there.”