The De La Salle High soccer team knew it needed a victory Thursday night against California to clinch the East Bay Athletic League title. That's because the Spartans were already aware that second-place Monte Vista had defeated San Ramon Valley earlier in the day.
De La Salle got the result it needed, beating the visiting Grizzlies 2-0 to claim its second straight league title and fourth in five years.
The win in the regular-season finale helped the Spartans edge Monte Vista by a point in the league standings, 33-32. It have might also earned them the top seed for next week's North Coast Section Division I playoffs.
"We've been playing really well lately," De La Salle coach Derricke Brown said. "Our defense was solid tonight and didn't give up many chances to a dynamic attack."
De La Salle (15-3-5, 10-1-3 EBAL) scored early in each half, and used a suffocating defense that gave the Grizzlies (16-6-2, 7-6-1) little space to work. When it was over, the Spartans had earned their 11th clean sheet of the season.
On senior night, two seniors teamed up for the first goal as Mikey Guerrero headed the ball perfectly to Tony Bell, whose right-footed strike in the 10th minute made it 1-0.
Sophomore Joey Jones scored his 10th goal of the season two minutes into the second half.
San Ramon Valley 0, Monte Vista 0: Wolves coach Mark Jones said before the match against the Mustangs that he's never seen quite so much parity in the EBAL.
Then, fittingly, the rivals went out and battled feverishly to their second consecutive tie against each other.
The Wolves (16-0-5, 10-0-4) put the finishing touches on a rare unbeaten league season and a second consecutive EBAL title. Foothill, which was 14-0-0 in 2008-09, was the last team to finish unbeaten in league play.
Monte Vista (9-5-5, 7-3-3), which entered the match without five injured starters, still held its own despite taking a few more lumps. But Mustangs coach Brett LeQuesne was impressed by both teams.
"It was a fantastic match. I really enjoyed that," said LeQuesne, whose team entered the night in second place.
On a cold night, the teams' aggressive offenses couldn't solve the well-organized, gritty defenses confronting them.
The Wolves got a strong match from playmaker Alexa Vandevanter, one of three players on the field headed to Cal. The other two were the Wolves' Hannah Koski and Mustangs' Lynsey Hromatko. San Ramon Valley's Megan Turner is headed to Stanford.
-- Matt Schwab