She stands but 5-foot-1, generally the tiniest player on the soccer pitch. And what does it matter now?
Madera South’s Kimberly Montoya beat Redwood 1-0 for the Central Section Division II championship with a goal in the 61st minute Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
A year ago, her goal in the 66th minute here at the same venue broke a scoreless tie in the Stallions’ 2-0 victory over Central Valley Christian in the D-II final – then Madera South’s first title for a program that has now grown to its 10th year.
Montoya had someone wear her 2015 title ring during Friday’s game, then she put the jewelry on her left forefinger afterward: “There’s no words to describe this; it’s overwhelming joy. I’m speechless.”
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But, oh, for those bright pink shoes that had the final word for the top-seeded Stallions (20-5-3) against No. 2 Redwood (21-4-3).
She peppered Rangers goalie Aubrey Mills with three shots in the first five minutes as Madera South owned the east side of the gorgeous green synthetic surface.
Yet, there stood West Yosemite League champion Redwood and 40-goal scorer Brooke Crisp, still tied with the Stallions midway through the second half.
“Scary,” Madera South second-year coach Ramon Delgadillo said. “I’ve played this game. You dominate and you dominate, but it’s tied. They get one breakaway and it’s done. That’s what was in the back of my mind.”
But it was then that Sabrina Ibrahim crossed a left-to-right pass to Montoya, who drove for about 15 yards before rendering Mills helpless with a blast inside the left post.
“Instead of cutting it, I just toe-bashed it,” said Montoya, a senior who plans on playing next year at Fresno City. “Coach taught us to toe-bash, and that’s what I did.”
Madera South is an incredibly athletic, skilled and fast team. Their team speed is as good as I’ve seen the entire time I’ve been coaching in the Central Valley.
Redwood coach Jason Vieira
Delgadillo, standing on the south sideline, was comforted having the ball on the toe of Montoya – and to heck with her size: “She has a good shot, is really fast, is able to control the ball and finish.”
Redwood coach Jason Vieira, 5 for 5 in WYL titles and with four section semifinal appearances before making this final, was awed by the quickness of Montoya and others in black, purple and white.
“Madera South is an incredibly athletic, skilled and fast team,” he said. “Their team speed is as good as I’ve seen the entire time I’ve been coaching in the Central Valley, and they know how to use it. They’re well-coached, know what their skill is and take full advantage of it.”
The Rangers were seeking their second section title. They won the Yosemite Division crown in 2003, according to section historian Bob Barnett.
Madera South will advance to a Southern California Regional match March 8. Seedings and first-round sites will be announced March 6.