No. 8 De La Salle 2, No. 2 Newark Memorial 0
The Star: De La Salle's Anthony Decosta scored the game-winner in the 30th minute for De La Salle.
The Turning Point: Decosta's goal allowed the Spartans to play more defense-minded, which allowed them to keep Newark's talented offense at bay.
The Quote: “We've gone through so many setbacks this year. Illnesses, injuries, bad luck. We had it all. To come here and win shows what kind of resiliency this team has," De La Salle coach Brian Voltattorni said.
The Bottom Line: After finishing the year fourth in the East Bay Athletic Leauge, the Spartans beat three teams they lost to during the regular season before taking down the Mission Valley Athletic League Newark Memorial Cougars in the championship.
Coming into the North Coast Section Division I boys championship soccer game on Saturday, second-seeded Newark Memorial had won 14 straight games, during which it outscored its opponents 54-4.
So how did No. 8-seeded De La Salle prepare?
"We really were coming in blind," senior captain Anothony Decosta said. "We knew they had some good left-footed players, but that was about it."
Turns out, that was all the scouting report the Spartans would need as Decosta scored in the 30th minute and Carlo Eikani added an insurance goal in the 77th to give De La Salle a 2-0 win and its third-straight NCS title.
This one was improbable.
The Spartans finished fourth in the East Bay Athletic League standings and needed to get through three teams they lost to during the regular season just to reach Saturday's finale at Dublin High. This included top-seeded California, which entered the playoffs with an unbeaten record and was ranked No. 12 in the nation by ESPN Rise.
“We've gone through so many setbacks this year. Illnesses, injuries, bad luck," De La Salle coach Brian Voltattorni said. "We had it all. To come here and win shows what kind of resiliency this team has."
Decosta's goal came off a set a piece and allowed the Spartans to sit back and focus on defending Newark's high-powered attack.
"It took some of the pressure off us because we knew that even if we were to slip up, it'd still be tied," Decosta said.
But that didn't happen.
Newark controlled large portions of the game, but didn't have many legitimate scoring chances.
Newark Memorial coach Ricky Villa, who is in his seventh season as head coach, said this was the best team he's coached during his tenure at his alma mater.
"It was a great season," he said. "Today was just one of those games. I felt like we outplayed them, but they got that early goal which made it tough."
"After losing our first two games, things really came together for us this year. I think we outmanned every team we played and it wasn't just our starters. We have 20 kids who can really play."
The Cougars lose 11 seniors, but will return six starters next year and will also welcome the arrival of several members off a junior varsity squad that went undefeated.
"I think this is the start of something really good for us," Villa said.
J.J. Vanuelos, Erik De La Pena and Matt Cordeiro all played well for Newark.