The Montgomery Vikings clinched the NBL Oak Division League Title with a 2-0 victory over rival Cardinal Newman yesterday. Second half goals from Micky Rosenbaum (Jr.) and Cindy Arteaga (Sr.) propelled an offense that has now outscored opponents 20-3 in the last six games.
Thus far, the Vikings have made this season look easy—sitting at 13-3-3 overall while going 9-1-1 in league—but it has been anything but. Montgomery’s field was closed a week before tryouts after turf experts deemed the 14-year-old field a safety hazard, forcing the school the replace it immediately. “It’s been a different kind of season for myself and the kids, not knowing where we are going to practice at times,” head coach Pat McDonald recalled. “The biggest issue has been field space and the ability to practice set pieces. That’s tough to work on without a full field. We’ve practiced at other schools and indoors at the Epicenter, but even there you can’t replicate the full field.”
The challenges that awaited them throughout this season were shadowed by the expectation that comes with playing at Montgomery. “The girls expect to be in the finals, it’s just that simple,” McDonald stated, “it’s what we’ve done 15 of the last 17 years. When you show up on campus you learn about it.”
Montgomery started out 2-0-2, but after dropping back to back games against Davis and Tamalpais in early December, the team had to refocus itself. That’s when McDonald left the room and the players only meeting began. “The girls wanted to be a team that won 50-50 balls,” said McDonald. “They wanted to try and win the first five minutes of each half. Take it to teams and let them know we are going to be aggressive.” The aggressive mindset manifested into aggressive play. “That’s become our style,” McDonald continued. “We aren’t going to pass the ball around 20 times and hope for three or four shots a game. We want to come at you all game long and put the pressure on you.”
The Vikings have done nothing but apply pressure in an NBL that is the strongest it’s been in years. Montgomery’s dynamic attack is quarterbacked in the midfield by playmaker Micky Rosenbaum (Jr.) and accentuated up top by Abria Booker (Jr.) and Cindy Arteaga (Sr.), who led the NBL in scoring last year. Montgomery hasn’t lost a game since January 8th, and the recent scoring discrepancy can be attributed to the hard work on the defensive side. McDonald acknowledged they’ve had their moments of poor play, but he’s liked how they’ve looked overall, “Our defense has held up better than I expected,” McDonald said. “They’ve come together as a group. Christina Cawood (Jr.) anchors our defense, she’s our leader back there.”
The Vikings have one league game remaining against Sonoma Academy that now serves as a last-minute tune up before NCS playoffs begin on February 13th. McDonald knows he has a team that can make a run at another finals appearance but doesn’t want the team to get too far ahead of themselves. “We need to keep playing solid games, our chances in NCS are definitely pretty good but one slip up and you’re done,” McDonald continued, “It’s been a long grueling season already and most of the kids are tired and beat, but we just have to stay mentally strong and keep powering through to see whose standing at the end.”