It's no secret in the Bay Area, De La Salle is king when it comes to California high school football. The Spartans have rolled off four consecutive state Open Division titles, and haven't lost to a Northern California opponent in, well, forever.
What about fútbol, the beautiful game on the pitch? The one game where no one throws, fumbles or runs with a ball tucked under one arm.
Simply put, yes. They are dominant there too. The No. 1-seeded Spartans won their fifth consecutive NCS Division I Soccer (and 11th overall) title Saturday night over East Bay Athletic League-rival and No. 6-seeded San Ramon Valley, but they had to go to overtime to do it this year.
The Spartans focus and mentality seemed much like their football demeanor: calm, reserved and all-business. They took the field with a quiet confidence, and didn't seem to notice the San Ramon Valley fans getting in their ear about the fraternidad (brotherhood).
A scoreless first half was highlighted by nice saves by both keepers, but De La Salle seemed to be running at three-quarters speed. Perhaps the Spartans were waiting for the perfect time to turn it on. Coach Derrick Browne's squad was playing physical – they were definitely engaged – but weren't necessarily dominating the contest.
In fact, for most of the second half, I was expecting SRV to break through with the first goal. But St. Mary's College-bound Andrew Konstatino kept everything out of the net. After 80 minutes of play, neither team had scored – tiempo suplimentario.
When the regulation whistle blew, it became clear that De La Salle would win this championship battle. It didn't matter if it went to PK's, or if there was a golden goal. As the Spartans took the field for extra time, there was a certainty and collective that only comes from De La Salle. The Spartans didn't pressure a ton in the first extra period, though, Konstatino was strong in goal, but with under a minute left in that first 10 minute frame, the Spartans did what they do: win. Off a corner kick, the ball pin-balled around in the offensive zone for DLS. Nick Dildine tried to put it in net, but it was right into the keeper.
After it bounced away, three different Spartans flew through the box, and Tony Bell eventually passed it off his forehead towards the goal. Dildine stuck out his left shin pad and deflected it past the goalie for the Golden Goal. La victoria.
The Wolves played a hard fought match, with intensity that is unmatched in high school sports. In this match, though, it was the dominance of a brotherhood. Whether it's football or fútbol, los Espartanos son campeones.