In the last four years, the Christopher High girls soccer team has reached the Central Coast Section playoff quarterfinals, semifinals and two championship matches. Their quest for CCS glory previously ended in disappointment, but not this season. On Friday, the top-seed Cougars ran away with a 7-0 win over No. 7 seed San Benito to take the Division III title and earn the program’s first-ever section championship.
“We’ve been waiting for this so long that it’s really exciting it finally happened,” said Jenna Urrabazo, the Christopher junior forward who scored three goals. “I was really nervous before the game started thinking what if they (San Benito) came out harder. But I think we definitely played hard from the beginning and obviously by the score it showed.”
Jaden Carrillo, Aesha Sandoval, Kaiya Stewart, and Carlie Silva also scored goals for Christopher, which finished the season 8-0-1. Urrabazo also had an assist, sending a corner kick to Sandoval, who headed the ball in from close range to make it 3-0 in the 31st minute. Stewart then went 1v1 with a San Benito player, got separation and delivered a shot that deflected off the hands of Haybalers goalkeeper Shaelyn Tamez to give the Cougars a commanding 4-0 lead going into halftime.
“The form of these girls has been increasing every game, and how they’re playing today looks nothing like the team that was playing a month and a half ago,” Cougars coach Matt Oetinger said. “They came together obviously at the right time.”
The Cougars outscored their three playoff opponents 15-0, leaving no doubt as to who was the class of the Division III field.
“Matt does a wonderful job with his girls and we know they’re a quality team,” Balers coach Becky Bonner said. “I have nothing but respect for their team and Matt.”
Bonner also praised her team for overcoming numerous injuries throughout the season and playing hard to the final whistle in every match.
“I can never get upset if they gave everything they had—ever,” Bonner said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them because no matter what happened on the scoreboard, they came out and literally gave everything they had for 80 minutes, and as a result of that they went from a month ago where we weren’t sure if we were going to have enough girls to play to making the CCS finals. I told them to hold their heads high.”
Christopher outshot San Benito 20-3, had a 6-1 advantage in corner kicks and dominated the time of possession. Putting together crisp passes, switching the field with precision and utilizing its superior 1v1 skills, the Cougars scored early and often. Urrabazo scored the game’s first goal in the 13th minute when she slotted a beautiful shot to the lower left corner post after receiving a nice pass from Taylor Mejia.
Carrillo made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute when her corner kick found the net after some miscommunication on the San Benito side. Bethany Urrabazo strung together a pass to Emma Davis, who delivered a perfect ball to Jenna Urrabazo to make it 5-0 in the 47th minute.
Urrabazo completed her hat trick on a rebound shot after Silva had made a nice run, and Urrabazo returned the favor with a diagonal pass to Silva, who scored in the 73rd minute to make it 7-0. CHS had beaten San Benito by scores of 3-0 and 2-0 earlier this season; however, the Cougars are playing at their absolute peak which led to the flurry of goals.
“We’re getting accustomed to each other and everything started to flow,” Jenna Urrabazo said. “Because of that, we’re able to move off the ball well and score goals easier. This is very rewarding. We didn’t think we’d even have a season, but I’m glad we did and ended up winning the whole thing.”
The Balers didn’t register their first shot on goal until the 60th minute on Laine Lowi’s free kick from 45 yards away. Lowi nearly scored in the 85th minute when she sent a hard free kick from 28 yards away that would’ve found the back of the net, but Cougars goalkeeper Jordan Anaya made a brilliant play, jumping high to deflect the ball out of play.
The Balers have just one senior on their roster and will return virtually the entire team for next season, including Lauren Green, who blocked three shots in the opening 15 minutes when CHS was active in the 18-yard box and unleashed a flurry of shots. A lineup dominated by freshmen and sophomores means San Benito could be poised for a strong 2021-2022 season.
Oetinger wanted nothing more than for his five seniors of Anaya, Carrillo, Bethany Urrabazo, Hanna Crawford and Shayla Joe to end their high school careers with a CCS championship. All but Joe have been starters since their freshmen or sophomore years.
“We’ve been super fortunate for having a great talent pool come through the school the last several years,” Oetinger said. “I’m also extremely blessed with a great coaching staff (Darlene DelCarmen and Alfredo Echauri). The three of us have super similar philosophies and thoughts on the game and how to coach specifically to get the most out of all of our players, and the proof is in the pudding—you see the results. This is our second final in three years, and we’ve reached the semifinals and the quarterfinals. I like this one the best.”