Tour of Champions makes its final stop at Mountain View

MOUNTAIN VIEW — Within a 24-hour period this week, the Mountain View girls soccer team was able to relive its run to the 2017 Central Coast Section Open Division championship.

It began with Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, where the team was awarded a certificate of recognition. The girls signed a soccer ball that will remain on display at City Hall.

That was the warm-up act.

During Wednesday’s lunch period, the MaxPreps Tour of Champions made its last stop of its soccer circuit on the school’s campus.

“This was absolutely amazing,” senior co-captain Karissa Hayes said. “To have them come all the way out here just to honor us was pretty cool.”

At the ceremony in front of family and friends, the Spartans were recognized as the No. 8 girls soccer team in the country, according to the MaxPreps computer rankings.

“I think it’s hard for people to realize how substantial it is,” Hayes said.

“The magnitude,” teammate Allie Coyne added.

“It’s fun to see a sport other than football getting recognition and a big celebration,” senior Natalie Brehaut said.

The computer rankings, which include more than 16,000 girls soccer teams, are generated through a formula that takes into account quality of wins, margin of victory, strength of schedule and a couple of other factors.

In a partnership with MaxPreps, the California Army National Guard trophy was presented by Sgt. Mike Watkins.

“This team exemplifies courage, hard work and character, values that the Army National Guard promotes and encourages,” Watkins told the audience. “That is why we are here to celebrate your accomplishments.”

Also on display was the CCS trophy, which Mountain View coach Ivan Bandov admired in his home for almost eight weeks.

“I got to have it on my mantle for a little while,” he said. “But now it goes back to the school.”

The Spartans found redemption at Santa Clara University after experiencing heartbreak on the same field the previous year.

On March 4, 2016, a missed penalty kick and an unlikely goal in the inaugural Open Division championship game turned into the only loss of the season — 1-0 to Woodside.

Fast forward a year, minus a day, and on March 3 it was Mountain View hoisting the CCS trophy after a 3-1 victory over Mitty, finishing the season with a 19-1-3 record.

“I think just the contrast in being there this year and winning versus ending last year with that stinging loss, it felt really awesome to redeem ourselves, especially for the seniors,” Coyne said. “And for all the hard work to have paid off as a team.”

“I remember vividly,” Bandov said. “I’ve watched the video a few different times. That was a special time. I really wanted the girls to win it, especially after how last year ended. I thought that was tough for them. And, also, to send our seniors out. The senior group has been a cornerstone of our program the last four years and part of the most successful time in this program’s history.”

There’s seven seniors on the roster, including tri-captains Brehaut, Coyne and Haynes.

Five of them signed national letters of intent to play at the next level:

• goalkeeper Brehaut (Gettysburg College);

• center mid Grace Descourouez (San Francisco State);

• right wing Natasha Harris (San Jose State);

• left back Hayes (University of San Diego);

• center forward Maddie Neidig (McNeese State).

“And a lot us are actually going to be playing against each other in college, too,” said Hayes, who scored twice in the CCS final. “So that will be fun.”

Coyne, who aims to “tear it up there” at Cal in club soccer, and defender Hailey Marent are the two other seniors.

“Definitely we have talent, there is no question about it,” Bandov said. “But I think in high school, where it’s different, is you get them for such a short period of time and you have maybe a few weeks to try to put it all together.”

It helps that this is not their first rodeo as a team.

“It’s MVLA,” said Hayes, pointing out that 21 out of the 23 players on the roster came through the Mountain View Los Altos soccer club. “A lot of us have been on the same club team before, so we practice offseason — but that’s really our season. So we’re always with each other.”

“Everybody plays the same style,” Brehaut said. “So it’s easy to come together and play the same game.”

As the MaxPreps Tour of Champions departed from its final destination, the girls scattered to different classrooms and the brief 24-hour reunion came to an end.

But the trophies on display at Mountain View will forever serve as a reminder of their ascent to one of the top 10 girls soccer teams in the country.

“I think it’s going to be one of those things where you don’t talk for a little while, but when you get back to each other it’s like nothing ever changed and it’s a family again,” Brehaut said. “It’s just that bond can’t be taken away because we’ve gone through so much together. It was a lot of ups, I would say a few downs that really felt pretty hard in our hearts, but you can’t take that away and it’s just something that will last forever.”

Bandov added: “I think that’s what really makes the team able to have that one heartbeat.”