Junior forward Alexa Heinzer scored two overtime goals off assists from Lauren Kohatsu and Julia Butterfield to lead Rio Americano to a 2-0 overtime win against Benicia in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III girls soccer championship game today at Cosumnes Oaks High School.
The Raiders (19-0-0), ranked No. 8 nationally by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, dominated play in regulation but had no goals to show for it against the Panthers (15-4-2), their longtime rivals.
But one minute into the first of two 10-minute overtimes, Heinzer left-footed a shot into the net from 15 yards set up by Komatsu's pass from a cross by Kira Merrick.
Heinzer added an insurance goal, her 26th of the season, in the 99th minute from Butterfield's cross.
It was frustrating that we had to go to overtime," said Heinzer, who transferred to Rio Americano when Loretto closed. "But we're a really close team. We just kept encouraging each other. We had no doubts. We came in here to win, so this is great."
It was the fourth consecutive time the two schools met for the D-III title. Benicia won in 2008 and 2010; Rio Americano in 2009.
But third-year coach Jennifer Smiley, a former Rio Americano player, said this win was special.
"This has been a fantastic team," she said. "They play well together. They're talented, and they're mentally tough. We allowed only four goals all season. That's pretty amazing."
Heinzer (Offensive MVP), senior midfielder Caroline Stromick (MVP), freshman sweeper Emily Hansen (Defensive MVP); senior midfielders Kohatsu, Emma Severson and Vilma Gonzalez; and freshman midfielder Emily Hutchinson all made the All-Capital Athletic League team, according to Smiley.
- Bill Paterson