The El Cerrito High women's soccer team took their league championship title Saturday, defeating Albany High's Cougars 1-0.
The victory – the first league title for the Gauchos in more than 10 years – capped a single-elimination tournament that began with the 12 teams of the Tri-County Athletic League. El Cerrito knocked out St. Mary's in the semi-finals Thursday.
Next up are the section playoffs, with El Cerrito meeting Piedmont High Wednesday in the first of four rounds for the championship of the North Coast Section – one of the state's 10 geographical divisions for high school sports.
Both Albany and St. Mary's also will play in the section championship tournament based on their excellent records this season. Albany won the championship of the Rock division, one of two divisions in the Tri-County Athletic League. (El Cerrito won the overall league championship with Saturday's defeat of Albany.)
The Gauchos this season lost only one one league game and allowed only two goals in league play, according to Coach Alexina Cather.
Cather provided this wrap-up of Saturday's game for Patch:
"Additional congratulations and accolades to the very talented group of Gaucho graduating seniors: Midfielder Emma Tinloy who recently signed with the D1 UC Davis Aggies, had the game winning assist; Midfielder Stephanie Munoz, who is also headed for D1 play next year, had the game winning goal; Goalie Maddie Lipson who has been dominant all season with 10 shutouts in league/playoff games, had five saves; Defender and four year varsity player Mariko Whitenack; Defender and four year varsity player Genevieve Simmons; Midfielder Elsie Monterrosa; Defender Hanna Goldman, and Forward Ava Burnell."
The assistant coach is Antti Ronkanen.
El Cerrito competes in Division 2 of the North Coast Section, which is divided into two divisions for women's volleyball. Division 1 consists of the larger schools and Division 2 the smaller schools. Division 1 has separate champions among its schools.
The match against Piedmont takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Piedmont High.