The Los Gatos High girls soccer team had plenty of reason to celebrate after beating Piedmont Hills 2-1 in overtime to win the CCS D-III championship on Feb. 24 at Del Mar High. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.

Macie Yannoni picked a great time to score on a header for the first time in her career. 

The junior standout headed a ball in from the goal area off a corner kick from Caitlyn Simons in the 94th minute that gave the Los Gatos High girls soccer team a 2-1 overtime win over Piedmont Hills in the Central Coast Section Division III championship match on Feb. 24 at Del Mar High. 

The victory earned Los Gatos a berth in the CIF Northern California Regional Division III tournament. The Wildcats (13-6-4) received the No. 2 seed and played host to No. 7 Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa on Feb. 27 (this edition went to press before the start of the game). 

“I’m really excited, really happy,” Yannoni said. “This is a big moment for us.”

It’s no coincidence that two of the team’s stalwarts—Yannoni and Simons—figured on the game-winning goal. Yannoni usually takes the team’s corner kicks but Los Gatos switched things up and it paid off big time.

“Usually, I take the corners, but Caitlyn can drop it on the six, so I figured I’d get in and knew this was our last moment,” Yannoni said. “I went up for the header and luckily it went in. I knew it was the last moment, so I just jumped as high as I could and tried to get my body on it. I seriously think that’s the first time I’ve scored on a header in my whole life, so it’s really exciting. It’s all about wanting it.”

Simons also got the assist on the team’s first goal, sending a beautiful diagonal pass from the right flank to a hard-charging Darcy Armstrong, who was making a beeline to the Piedmont Hills goal. Armstrong promptly settled the ball before scoring to give Los Gatos a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute.

Los Gatos has a storied tradition, with six CCS championships to its credit to go along with four runner-up finishes. This year’s title victory was the program’s first in 10 years. It was evident Los Gatos was the superior side vs. Piedmont Hills, dominating the possession time. 

However, the Wildcats were in a precarious position after giving up a soft goal just a minute into the second half. Despite several shots on goal and near misses throughout, Los Gatos failed to score another goal in regulation, forcing a 20 minute mandatory overtime period. 

“It was frustrating, but I know we were the better team and we’re really good at coming back and just working together,” Yannoni said. “And we all want it for each other, so in the end we’re always able to come through.”

The Wildcats certainly didn’t want the game decided on penalty kicks, not after proving its superior talent. Los Gatos usually plays a possession-type game, characterized by quick-hitting passes. But Piedmont Hills utilizes an offside trap, so the Wildcats went to the long ball early and often. Their superior speed on the flanks resulted in players like Madi Kohli making long runs and creating solid scoring opportunities.

One of the fastest players on the team, Kohli time and again outran her defender to the ball, setting up quality scoring chances. 

“They do a really high offside trap, they push really high,” Yannoni said. “We know we have faster players, so playing them in behind [would be effective]. We knew immediately, we watched the film. We knew going into it we had to play a little differently. But we’re good at adjusting.”

In addition to the players already mentioned, Abby Nelson, Avery Edson, Teagan Kaefer and Maci Schwab helped the Wildcats control the flow of play. Defender Ellie White made one of the defining plays in the match, absolutely stuffing a Piedmont Hills shot in the goal area to keep the game scoreless in the 13th minute.

That was the Pirates’ best scoring opportunity early. The Wildcats had a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks, a telltale sign they were controlling the run of play. With five freshmen and four sophomores on the roster—all of whom are impact players—the future has arrived for Los Gatos. 

“It’s great [having talented underclassmen on the team],” Yannoni said. “We get to mentor them a little bit, just like I had for my freshman and sophomore year. It’s great to be a part of that process. And they are really good, as good as everyone on this team. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here right now.”


Los Gatos High saw its season come to an end in a 2-0 loss to Hollister High in the Division II championship match on Feb. 24 at Del Mar High. 

The Wildcats were making their first appearance in a CCS title match since 1996–long before any of the players were born. However, Hollister proved to be too tough, scoring both of its goals in the second half. Los Gatos was coming off a riveting win over Menlo School in the semifinals, prevailing in penalty kicks, 12-11, after the teams finished 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime tied at 4-4. 

Keegan Mctighe scored the Wildcats’ final two goals, including one in overtime. Max Lees and Shlok Shrivastava had goals in the first half. Goalkeeper Leon Sarashki made two saves in the marathon PK shootout. 


Los Gatos High standouts EJ Parco and Antonio Rodriguez were competing in the two toughest weight divisions in this year’s CIF State Championships on Feb. 22-24 at Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield. Parco took third place in the 150-pound division and Rodriguez placed fifth at 120 pounds.

As expected, No. 4 seed Parco was dominant en route to the semifinals, where he faced off with top-seed Brock Mantanona of Palm Desert High. Parco lost a razor-close decision, 4-3, before rebounding with a pair of impressive performances. 

Parco rolled to a 11-2 major decision win over No. 6 seed Noah Reynolds and a 2-1 decision over Miguel Estrada of Frontier High in the third-place match. Rodriguez also was in a stacked field featuring a handful of nationally-ranked wrestlers. 

The sophomore won his first three matches before losing a close 3-1 decision to No. 3 seed Isaiah Quintero. Rodriguez responded with a pair of wins by decision, 3-1 and 3-0, before losing to Gilroy’s Moses Mendoza, 5-1. He then won the fifth-place match, 3-2, over Robert Jones of Poway. 

The Los Gatos High girls soccer team was all smiles after beating Piedmont Hills 2-1 for the CCS D-III championship. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
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Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.


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