Northbrook, Memorial ready for postseason
The Memorial girls soccer team finished an undefeated district season March 22 at Northbrook High School. The defending state champions take a 6-1 win and the No. 1 seed from District 17-6A into the playoffs.
But both teams had reason to celebrate. The Raiders entered the night assured of their first postseason appearance in six years.
Northbrook (13-6-2 overall, 8-6-2 in district) clinched the fourth and final playoff spot March 11 with a 1-0 victory against Cypress Creek. It closed a key three-match winning streak including a 2-0 shutout of rival Spring Woods and a 4-1 triumph against Cypress Ridge.
The Raiders finished unbeaten in non-district play and were 4-3-1 during the 17-6A first round, playing Memorial within 1-0. They completed sweeps of Jersey Village, Spring Woods and Cy Ridge, going a combined 8-0-2 against the five teams ultimately behind them in the standings.
“We were really consistent,” Northbrook coach Bryce Haskett said. “We played true to who we were throughout the season. Memorial’s a phenomenal team. Cy-Fair and Stratford are both excellent teams that I think can go really deep in the playoffs. When we played Cy Creek and Cy Ridge, teams that were more similar to us, we did what it took to win.”
Northbrook takes a senior-laden group into the playoffs, though their top goal scorer is junior Cecilia Lopez. Senior Guadalupe Santibanez ranks second in scoring and broke the shutout against Memorial with two minutes remaining.
Key players for the Raiders include senior wings Maria Saldana and Madelin Castro. Senior Gissell Najera has been crucial to their success, anchoring the defense in back.
While it has made the playoffs in the largest classification before, this will be Northbrook’s first trip in Class 6A.
The Raiders were in 4A during their last two postseasons in 2011 and 2013, when 5A was the top division. Haskett, in his ninth year at NHS, was the coach for both.
The Raiders open the playoffs with perennial District 18-6A champion Bellaire at 7 p.m., March 29 at Delmar Stadium.
“We’re really excited,” Haskett said. “Bellaire’s been a great program for a long time. They win district year after year. We’re really excited to match up with them.”
Spring Branch ISD claimed three of the four girls playoff spots in 17-6A.
Stratford finished 12-4-0 to grab the No. 3 seed. The Spartans host 18-6A runner-up Heights at 5:30 p.m., March 29 at Tully Stadium.
Memorial hosts Lamar the same night at 7:30 p.m. The Mustangs repeated as district champs with a 15-0-1 record, outscoring district opponents 76-4.
Memorial led 4-0 by halftime against Northbrook, with Gillian Holloway, Kelsey Hranicky, Emily Ridge and Blakely Buckingham all scoring. Lydia O’Neill and Chandler Maloney scored in the second half.