The Sonora and Summerville varsity girls soccer teams may compete for supremacy of the Mother Lode League when they meet for their final league game on Thursday.
Sonora High School is undefeated and first place in the league with a record of 6-0-2, followed close behind by Summerville, who has a league record of 5-1-2.
There’s no telling what might happen on Thursday, said Sonora High School coach Kurt Wolken.
“I love it. I think for both of us to be in this position, both of these high schools coming from Tuolumne County, it speaks volumes about what your youth levels and what our rec levels have done for this community.”
When they met in their last game on Jan. 17, they tied 1-1.
Summerville High School coach David Marquez said in the last meeting, the Bears scored the tie goal with less than 10 minutes remaining.
“Normally you don't score goals so late in the game when it's that close,” he said.
Following a 4-1 victory against Amador High School on Tuesday, Marquez said his team was ready to focus on their strengths in the game against Sonora. A strategy of small-sided passes and maintaining possession worked against other teams, so it might be the key to victory on Thursday.
“I feel like we are starting to peak at the right time,” Marquez said.
Sonora High School will stick to the strategy they’ve maintained all year, Wolken said.
Attack, attack, attack.
“My wish would be to have this every year, us battling for the first place position,” he said.
The game is more than just a cross town rivalry, they said. Most of the girls have played soccer in Tuolumne County youth, recreational and club programs for years. When they meet on the field, their friendships seem to evaporate.
But after the game, they all convene in the center of the field, and might go out for a movie afterward.
“It's always a closely contested game and they try to give each other their best effort,” said Marquez.
But the teams have faced very different challenges during the season in their race for the top spot in the Mother Lode League.
Summerville was hampered by injuries early, with one player sustaining a torn meniscus and ACL, and others were concussed, which sidelined them for weeks.
But the team was resurgent, Marquez said, and noted that the team had only allowed five goals in league.
“My defense, as well as my goalie, have just done an outstanding job,” Marquez said.
Marquez is in his seventh season as coach of Summerville. He is a Summerville graduate and has coached at the recreational and competitive level since 1993.
Wolken said his team had earned a reputation as comeback queens, beating Oakdale High School, Bret Harte High School and Amador High School after first-half deficits.
“They realize that soccer takes patience and you can't force anything. They trust the formation, they trust the style of soccer that they play and it helps them be successful in the long run,” he said.
Wolken said senior goalie Mary Montano and junior forward Brenna Canepa were two team standouts.
Wolken has coached at Sonora for four years and as a club coach for 11 years.
Both teams will advance to the playoffs.
The game on Thursday will be held at Sonora High School’s Dunlavy Field at 5:45 p.m.