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Unbeaten Vaqueros blank Cerritos 1-0, earn second straight trip to State Final 4

Kat Sheehy, right, is mobbed after scoring the game's only goal on a header in the 59th minute. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)
Kat Sheehy, right, is mobbed after scoring the game's only goal on a header in the 59th minute. (Photo by Ken Sciallo / Sevilla Photography)

Katherine Sheehy scored on a leaping header at 58:21 and SBCC's defense shut down Cerritos 1-0 on Saturday night in a Southern Cal Regional Final women's soccer match at a foggy La Playa Stadium.

The top-seeded Vaqueros (20-0-1) won their 20th straight game and posted their 13th consecutive shutout. They also completed a perfect 11-0 home campaign, outscoring the opponents 37-0. The 20 wins are the most in school history, surpassing the 2002 team that went 19-2-0.

No. 4 Cerritos (20-2-1) had its 16-game win streak snapped. The five-time defending state champion Falcons hadn't lost a playoff game in six years and were 26-0-1 in their last 27 playoff games.

Cerritos entered the game with the No. 5 offense (92 goals) in the state and No. 6 defense (9 goals allowed). The Vaqueros were No. 10 in offense (73 goals) and No. 1 in defense (3 allowed).

It was tough to see the players through the heavy fog in the first half, which ended in a 0-0 tie.

Isabella Viana stole the ball near the right end line in the 59th minute. She turned quickly and lofted a high cross to the far side. Sheehy jumped above a defender and headed it past the goalie for a 1-0 lead.

"The fog was a distraction at first but we just played through it," said Viana. "I got my foot on the ball and it went through her legs. I didn't see Kat at first, then a defender moved and I saw her. I didn't know I could kick the ball that far.

"It was a relief to get that goal. We had some great opportunities in the first half. We knew we were the better team and we just needed that first goal."

Said Sheehy: "Bella had a great cross. I knew I had to get up above the defender. I got my head on it and it went down, maybe it bounced over the keeper's hand. I was really happy to see it go in.

"Getting to the Final 4 for two straight years with these girls is going to be really, really fun. We're excited to travel all the way to Sacramento with this incredible group of girls. I really think we can win the whole thing."

Santa Barbara outshot the Falcons 12-8, including 7-4 on target.

"It was a great game with lots of end-to-end action," said coach John Sisterson. "It was a tough game, we knew they'd make it physical and we just had to match them. Our defense was solid and Holly (Telliard) kept us in the game.

"Our girls deserve to be in the Final Four, just look at our record. We knew we'd need a clean sheet to keep going."

Telliard, a 5-11 freshman keeper from San Diego, made four saves. She had one in the 47th minute and another at 54:40 when Maria Hernandez tried a long lob shot but Telliard jumped up and punched it over the bar. Telliard and the defense have a school-record 18 shutouts in 21 games.

No. 6 Santiago Canyon captured the other Southern Cal Final on Saturday, beating No. 7 San Bernardino Valley 2-0.

The Vaqueros and Santiago Canyon will represent the South in the CCCAA State Final Four at American River College in Sacramento on Dec. 1 & 3. The Vaqueros, the No. 1 seed in the South, will take on North No. 2 Folsom Lake (21-1-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. North No. 1 Fresno City (24-0-1) will battle South No. 2 Santiago Canyon (20-2-1) in the first semifinal at 1 p.m.