PLEASANT HILL -- College Park High right back Melissa Kastell provided heroics on offense and defense, helping the Falcons earn a dramatic win over visiting Alameda in the North Coast Section Division I girls soccer quarterfinals on Saturday.
Kastell scored the climactic goal in a best-of-five penalty shootout as the No. 4 seeded Falcons prevailed 5-3 over the No. 14 Hornets. The teams had fought to a 1-1 draw through 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime.
"A lot of stress and a lot of pressure having the whole game on my back, but I think we all played phenomenally and we deserved to win," Kastell said.
Kastell also saved the day by clearing the ball off the goal line on a rocket shot by Alameda's Reina Bonta in the 68th minute, with her team ahead 1-0.
"When we take corner kicks everyone's assigned a spot, and I had that post, and I just stayed where I was and I was ready for anything," Kastell said. "It was a miracle that I cleared it out."
Alameda, which upset No. 5 Amador Valley 3-1 in the first round, tied the game 1-1 in the 77th minute on a goal by Sara Jo Ciapponi off an Amani Webber-Schultz assist, on a quick counterattack.
In penalty kicks, both teams converted in the first three rounds. College Park star Jacky Scharff converted in the fourth round, the Hornets missed, and Kastell touched off a celebration with the fifth Falcons' goal.
The Falcons (22-3-1) advance to the semifinals and will face No. 1 seed Monte Vista, which beat No. 8 Freedom 4-0 in another quarterfinal, on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Danville.
A clutch player, Scharff scored in the 61st minute off a long free kick by center back Jessica Jordan to break a scoreless stalemate.
"I was so excited. It was a good feeling," Scharff said of her goal.
Both teams' defenses were outstanding against aggressive attacks. The Falcons' back line boasts Jordan and Mary Stammers in the middle, along with Kastell and Gabby Silva on the outside. Alameda center back Ciapponi had an excellent all-around game
Alameda coach Abu Pigott said he was "ecstatic" with his team's effort. He said his team showed "mettle" coming back from a 1-0 deficit.
"The girls all year long have been playing great," Pigott said. Our school's a small school, so we don't have a history of coming to this level, but the goal this year was' one game at a time,' and by default, taking that approach, we were able to get to this level. The goal now is just to build on this success. The coaching staff is not disappointed at all."
Scharff attributes the Falcons' success as unbeaten Diablo Valley Athletic League champions to great chemistry.
"We all just really like each other, and we all just want the same thing: We just want to win, and so I think that's why we play so well together," Scharff said.