The San Ramon Valley High girls soccer team prevailed 2-0 in a high-level showdown against Bishop O'Dowd on Friday evening at the Tri-Valley Classic.
The attractive matchup in pool play of the eight-team Invitation Division pitted last season's North Coast Section Division I champion Wolves and the Division II champion Dragons.
San Ramon Valley (7-0) received goals from Jessica Martinez in the 15th minute and Melissa Lewis in the 75th minute, along with a typically relentless attacking performance, backed by calm and skillful central defender Jaime Van Vorn.
The match at the Mustang Soccer Complex in Danville showcased the excellence of both top-quality programs.
"We were really interested in playing this team," Lewis said of the Dragons. "We heard a lot of good things about them. They've had a great couple of seasons, and we wanted to come out and prove ourselves and defend our (Tri-Valley Classic) title and play a really great team."
The Dragons (3-2-0), minus at least three key injured starters, began asserting themselves as the second half unfolded. Freshman center attacking midfielder Kira Debro and holding midfielder Taylor Hobbs were solid, along with midfielder Sophia Natsues and center back Rachel Wilson.
But with every Dragons' breakout from the back came three or four more right back at them from a pack of Wolves.
"Their counter was extremely quick. They have a lot of team speed," Dragons coach Jon Nishimoto said of the Wolves. "Very technical and tactically aware of what they want to do. They had a game plan that they stuck to, but I was really happy with my girls. They were able to defend and get numbers behind the ball."
On Lewis' back-breaking goal, a long cross came in from the right, and Allie Dutto flicked the ball over the top to Lewis, who ripped a shot into the near corner from outside the back post.
On the first goal, the Wolves struck with deadly precision. Gabby Franklin hit a one-touch pass up the right side from near the middle of the field to Lewis, who passed down the right wing to Olivia Torres. She hit a near-post cross to Martinez, making a near-post run, for the big finish.
Two strong diving saves by Dragons sophomore goalkeeper Claire Attias kept her team's hopes alive.
The Dragons went 0-2 in Classic action on Friday, also falling to Bullard-Fresno 2-1. San Ramon Valley beat Marlborough-Los Angeles 4-0 earlier in the day. The Dragons will conclude pool play against Marlborough at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday, and the Wolves will play Bullard at the same time.
The tournament final is at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Mustang Soccer Complex.
Despite the back-to-back losses, the Dragons are getting what they wanted: a chance to face top-flight competition and work on things.
"We came to this tournament because we wanted to compete against the best, and there's none better than San Ramon Valley," Nishimoto said. "They are a very quality side. I respect their coaching a lot. Mark Jones does a great job with these girls."
Bishop O'Dowd 68, Bishop Gorman-Las Vegas 54: The Dragons (3-0) received 24 points from Ivan Rabb and 16 points from Juwan Anderson as they advanced to the Platinum Division final of the Tarkanian Classic in Las Vegas. That game is Saturday at 7:30 p.m.