La Costa Canyon boys triumph on early penalty kick

La Costa Canyon players celebrate the game’s only goal from Colin Yarbrough (right) against Steele Canyon on Friday.
(Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Lineup adjustment helps Patrick Henry defeat Francis Parker after giving up an early goal to win the girls Division II title


You kind of figured when La Costa Canyon’s Colin Yarbrough out-guessed Steele Canyon goalie Yoel Vazquez on a penalty a little past 14 minutes into the game that just maybe that would be enough.

After all, goalie Nolan Keeping and the Mavericks defense had posted nothing but blanks in the San Diego Section Division II boys soccer playoffs.

Sure enough, Keeping staved off a second half flurry of Steele Canyon shots as La Costa Canyon won 1-0 Friday night at Bonita Vista High.

It was the sixth title for the Mavericks and the first since 2016, earning them a berth in the Southern California playoffs, which start Tuesday.

“I just guessed right,” said Yarbrough, who actually saw Vazquez lean to his left just before he scorched a ball into the upper left corner of the nets from 12 yards out for his eighth goal of the season. “I was nervous but confident. It’s maybe our second winning goal by penalty kick — that’s not our style.

“So many things can go wrong — you can miss the ball or fall or kick it over the bar. To win on that was unexpected. I think 1-0 is the most dangerous lead you can have but I was still confident.”

That’s because Keeping actually made it five straight shutouts, including blanking San Diego 4-0 in the quarters and Chula Vista 3-0 in the semifinals.

“I’ve won in club ball but to bring the trophy home to my high school feels great.” said the 6-foot-3 sophomore. “You have to give the other guys credit.”

OK. Connor Luoto, Drake Thompson, Mason Prevost, Cameron Holl, Jack Silverman and Cole Evans refused to give up the tying goal, clearing the ball time and again, denying the Cougars the equalizer.

With the win, LCC (15-4-4) made it 17 straight without a loss following a 1-4-1start.

Coach Craig Dean said that slow beginning was not so much the Mavericks’ poor play as the quality of the opponents.

“We played the number 1, 2 and 4-ranked teams,” said Dean who won his second title. “We’re riding a high right now. The defense has been so solid—they buy into the bend but don’t break philosophy.

“It takes tremendous focus (to shut out three straight playoff teams). A little mistake here or there can lead to a goal, but they backed each other up.”

Steele Canyon coach Justin Johnson was drained after his Cougars did everything but put the ball in the net and still ended the season 16-5-2, including 12 straight wins at the end. That included stopping San Ysidro 3-1 and Hilltop 1-0 in the playoffs.

It took a brilliant save by Vazquez with 20 minutes to play on a scorching, low liner from Maxence Kolb to keep it from being 2-0.

“Sometimes you can dominate and not win,” said Cougars coach Justin Johnson. “We pushed the last half of the first half and the entire second half, but couldn’t win.”

Especially for Yarbrough who was not available when the Mavericks and Cougars played to an earlier 1-1 draw.



Samantha Bancalari is a fullback for Patrick Henry’s girls soccer team but coach Jason Renfro decided to move her up when Francis Parker adjusted its offense in the section Division II girls soccer championship Friday night at Bonita Vista High.

Good move.

Bancalari found herself with the ball at her feet and responded like a veteran forward, snapping a 1-1 tie midway through the first half and then moved back on defense as the Patriots withstood a flurry of Parker shot attempts to win their first section title and advance to the Southern California Regional playoffs Tuesday.

“I thought it would go in,” said Bancalari of just her second goal of the year.

Asked which she more exciting, though, she had to admit getting the game-winning goal trumped great defense — this time.

“My job is to stop them,” said the senior.

Renfro said he and the team were a little shocked when Parker sophomore Sophia Speziale stunned Henry (20-3-1) with the quick goal for Parker (14-6-1).

However, Naima Castro found the back of the net with her 16th goal of the season to equalize the score before Bancalari collected the winner.

“I thought we needed a quick goal to take the momentum back,” said Renfro. “There was a strong wind and that was a factor.”

It was Henry’s seventh straight win.

Brand is a freelance writer.