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Girls soccer loses Barons Tournament championship match in overtime

Fallbrook High School’s girls soccer team lost in overtime to Mount Carmel in the Limited Division championship match of the Barons-Howie Classic tournament.

“That was a pretty exciting game,” said Fallbrook coach Kevin Koptieff.

The Barons-Howie Classic is the county’s oldest girls soccer tournament, and under its original name it was also the first-ever girls soccer competition sanctioned by the CIF San Diego Section.

The Raiders Tournament was a four-team tournament in 1981, when girls soccer didn’t even exist as a high school club sport. Tournament founder and organizer Ron Pietila coached junior varsity basketball and junior varsity baseball at Southwest High School during the 1980-81 school year. Some girls played on boys soccer teams at the time, and Pietila was given permission by the CIF to conduct a girls tournament.

Pietila recruited Southwest High School girls for the Raiders team and sent letters to other soccer coaches throughout the county. Three other schools responded and participated in the initial tournament.

Girls soccer became a CIF sport in 1982 and was moved from a Spring sport to a Winter sport for the 1983-84 season, whereupon the Barons Tournament was moved to December. Pietila became the coach of Bonita Vista High School for the 1986-87 season and the tournament was renamed as the Barons Tournament.

Pietila retired as Bonita Vista’s coach after the 1998-99 season and was replaced by his daughter Ronne. Pietila came out of retirement to start up the Otay Ranch High School soccer program in 2003, and during Pietila’s three seasons at Otay Ranch the tournament was known as the Barons-Mustangs Tournament. Pietila returned to Bonita Vista in 2006 and the competition once again became known as the Barons Tournament.

The tournament name was altered this year to honor long-time local coach Howie Hawver, who was diagnosed last year with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The activities following the conclusion of the tournament’s games included a donation to the ALS Association of Greater San Diego.

What is usually referred to as the Barons Tournament is also the state’s largest girls soccer tournament. The 2009 Barons-Howie Classic had 108 teams in four varsity divisions and four junior varsity divisions.

The twelve Limited Division teams in the December 2009 tournament were split into four pools of three teams apiece. During pool play each team played the other two teams in its pool and one cross-pool match. Fallbrook, El Camino and San Dieguito Academy were in the Navy Division for pool play.

Fallbrook began the tournament - as well as its 2009-10 season and its era with Koptieff as the Warriors’ coach - with a 3-1 loss December 1 to San Dieguito Academy at Fallbrook.

“During the first game, we had to work out a few kinks,” Koptieff said.

The cross-division game December 1 saw Mission Bay defeat El Camino.

Fallbrook’s game against a Green Division team was a 3-1 win December 2 over Our Lady of Peace at Fallbrook.

“We bounced right back,” Koptieff said.

El Camino defeated San Dieguito in those two teams’ December 2 match. On December 3 the Warriors played at home against El Camino and earned a 1-0 victory over the Wildcats while San Dieguito played Christian to a tie. The Warriors won their pool and advanced to the semifinals.

“It was awesome,” Koptieff said.

The win over El Camino also allowed the Warriors to match their win total for the entire 2008-09 season.

“That’s huge,” Koptieff said.

Fallbrook’s 2-14-3 record last season included a 1-1-1 mark in the 2008 Barons Tournament in which the Warriors did not advance out of pool play.

Fallbrook exceeded its previous season’s win total with what was officially a 5-4 win in the semifinals against Our Lady of Peace. The score of the December 5 game at Olympian High School includes penalty kick shootout goals as well as one goal apiece scored during field play, which added 15 minutes of overtime to the two regulation halves.

“That was an intense game,” Koptieff said.

Fallbrook goalkeeper April Doss, who had the shutout against El Camino, blocked two penalty kicks during the shootout.

The 11 a.m. semifinal start and the 3 p.m. championship match start gave Fallbrook one hour of rest prior to the finals at Olympian High School against Mount Carmel. Neither team scored in regulation.

“They have some great players,” Koptieff said of the Sundevils. “Those girls can play.”

While overtime play began with full squads, one player from each team was removed after every three minutes of overtime. In the final three minutes of the 15-minute overtime period, the teams were playing with seven players apiece.

“That caught me off guard,” Koptieff said. “It gets a little tactical there.”

In addition to choosing which players to remove, the decrease in players also negated all practice executions. Although Doss was able to block a Sundevil shot during seven-on-seven time, one of the Mount Carmel players recovered the ball and shot the rebound into the net. The sudden-death format gave Mount Carmel a 1-0 victory and the tournament championship.

“It’s already an improvement over last season,” Koptieff said.

Doss was one of three Fallbrook players named to the Limited Division’s all-tournament team; Kathy Reynoso and Erika Sanchez also received all-tournament recognition.

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