By Keith Peters
When the No. 3-seeded Sacred Heart Prep girls' soccer team takes on No. 2 Live Oak in the semifinals of the Central Coast Section Division III playoffs on Tuesday night, the Gators will do so without standout senior Abby Dahlkemper.
Dahlkemper was named to the U.S. Under-20 Women's National team recently and is traveling with the squad from Monday through March 9 for three matches at the Ten Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain.
The U.S., under the direction of head coach April Heinrichs, will face Sweden on Friday, England on Sunday and Norway on March 8. There is no winner in the tournament as each team will play three friendly matches. Also participating in the tournament are Scotland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Denmark and Italy.
Dahlkemper was among the 18-players chosen for the trip. Also on the roster is Stanford keeper Emily Oliver. The squad is led by midfielder Samantha Mewis, who already has played in a U-17 and a U-20 FIFA Women's World Cup; midfielder Mandy Laddish of NCAA champion Notre Dame; midfielder Morgan Brian, the 2010 Parade Girls' Soccer player of the Year; Mollie Pathman, the 2010 Gatorade Girls' Soccer Player of the Year, and forward Lindsay Horan, the leading scorer for the U.S. U-17s in 2010.
Dahlkemper played in the Gators' 1-0 quarterfinal victory over Harbor on Saturday at Piedmont Hills. Should Sacred Heart Prep (14-4-3) get by Live Oak (13-3-5) in their showdown at Valley Christian in San Jose at 7 p.m., the Gators will play in the championship match this Saturday at Valley Christian without Dahlkemper, as well.
"I couldn't be more thrilled for Abby," said SHP coach Jake Moffat. "She was one of only a few 93's (1993 birthdays) selected to join a U-20 team consisting of mostly 92s. It is a huge acomplishment and opportunity. I wouldn't wish her anywhere else.
"For CCS, Abby's absence provides the opportunity for some other players to step up and fill her shoes. It is the nature of high school soccer -- you play with the players you have available. I really like our chances (Tuesday night) with the squad I have."
Senior Geena Graumann, who is headed to USC next season, assumes the role as the team's go-to scorer. She tallied the lone goal against Harbor in the quarterfinals. The Gators, however, have plenty of depth and offense to handle the challenge that the final two matches offer.
Sacred Heart Prep won the CCS Division III title two seasons ago and has 10 seniors inching to get back to the finals.
In the other semifinal, at 4:30 p.m., the No. 5 Priory girls (13-3-4) will take on No. 8 Valley Christian (11-5-5). Priory last reached the Division III finals in 2008, its only appearance. Valley Christian won section titles in 2004 and '06, and upset No. 1 Scotts Valley, 1-0, in the quarterfnals.
In the boys' CCS Division I semifinals on Tuesday, No. 3 Menlo-Atherton will face No.2 Mountain View (16-1-3) at Piedmont Hills at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to Saturday's title match at Gilroy High.