2017-02-17 / Sports

Can you believe it?

Scorps, Spartans battle to wildfinish in wild card playoff game for the ages
By Jonathan Andrade


CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS—Camarillo High girls’ soccer senior captain Daniella Helsdon celebrates her game-winning goal in a 4-3 overtime playoff win against crosstown rival Rio Mesa on Feb. 14 at home. CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS—Camarillo High girls’ soccer senior captain Daniella Helsdon celebrates her game-winning goal in a 4-3 overtime playoff win against crosstown rival Rio Mesa on Feb. 14 at home. GIRLS’ SOCCER /// Camarillo 4, Rio Mesa 3 (OT)

Camarillo vs. Rio Mesa is always special.

The first playoff meeting between the high schools’ girls’ soccer teams was epic.

Camarillo, which blew a two-goal lead in the final two minutes of regulation, bounced back to defeat Rio Mesa 4-3 in overtime on Valentine’s Day in a CIF-Southern Section Division 4 wild card showdown for the ages.

Daniella Helsdon, a senior captain for the Scorpions, blasted the game-winner nine minutes into the extra session.

“I knew I had to finish off the cross,” Helsdon said. “We had to win this game. We’ve been working for this the whole season.


GETTING AHEAD—Rio Mesa’s Carina Cardenas, top, and Camarillo’s Annika DeGenna go after the ball in the Division 4 wild card game. 
Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers GETTING AHEAD—Rio Mesa’s Carina Cardenas, top, and Camarillo’s Annika DeGenna go after the ball in the Division 4 wild card game. Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers “I just knew I had to put the ball into the net.”

A cross from senior midfielder Annika DeGenna bounced five times before Helsdon’s right boot connected for the deciding goal.

The Scorpions’ hearts were atwitter like Cupid, while the Spartans trudged off the pitch heartbroken.

“It’s a big victory for us,” Camarillo head coach Charles Fiacco said. “Both teams played very hard. They’re a great team. We happened to get this one. The balls bounced our way in that overtime period.”

DeGenna set up the cross by shaking the defender with brilliant moves.

“I saw that she kept battling,” the coach said of DeGenna. “She just wanted it slightly more than that other girl did. It was a fortunate cross. Daniella was in the right place at the right time to put it in.”


GROUP HUG—Scorpion teammates swamp teammate Daniella Helsdon after her game-winning goal against Rio Mesa on Tuesday. GROUP HUG—Scorpion teammates swamp teammate Daniella Helsdon after her game-winning goal against Rio Mesa on Tuesday. Camarillo senior Jordan Centeno found the back of the net on a free kick to open the scoring in the fourth minute. Nadia Kamassah, a precocious Camarillo freshman, added two goals.

The Scorpions traveled to face Schurr of Montebello in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs on Thursday. A score was unavailable at press time.

Rio Mesa head coach Gonzalo Rodriguez said he was proud of his team’s efforts in the wild card.

Trailing 3-1, Spartan senior defender Sierra Gambala converted a penalty kick into a goal in the 79th minute. Sixty seconds later, junior forward Kelly Rodriguez chipped home the equalizer in stoppage time to hush the stunned Camarillo home crowd.


REACH OUT—Rio Mesa goalie Clarissa Grajeda can’t stop this goal by Camarillo’s Daniella Helsdon (No. 20). REACH OUT—Rio Mesa goalie Clarissa Grajeda can’t stop this goal by Camarillo’s Daniella Helsdon (No. 20). Rio Mesa goalie Clarissa Grajeda helped preserve the draw with a clutch block in the final minute of regulation, one of many highlight saves for the sophomore on the night.

“We just had to stay together and keep fighting to try to get another one,” Rodriguez said. “We had momentum at the time. I was just hoping we could finish it. I felt we deserved it.”

Grajeda, who didn’t play high school soccer last year, said the loss hurt, but it was a day she’ll remember for a long time.

“I’ll always remember the love we had for each other and how we left it all out on the field,” she said.

Rodriguez, in his 17th season at the helm, said he’ll miss this special group, which included 15 returners from last year’s squad. Eight Rio Mesa seniors will graduate in the spring.

The coach said the Spartans will chase the team’s first CIF title next winter.

“My girls that are coming back know what to expect in this program,” Rodriguez said. “They exemplify what I want in this program. I ask a lot. I demand a lot, but I want them to be successful. I’m not going to allow them to accept anything lower than what they can do.”

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