Piedmont boys soccer beats Berkeley for first time in 8 years

Harper Mand (55), Bosco Lorin (50), Nikolas Markopoulos (22), and Jacques Saldanha (44) at Berkeley on Jan. 3. (Photo by Scott Stratman.)

Piedmont High School’s boys soccer team defeated Berkeley for the first time in eight years on Jan. 23, 1-0. Enzo Bernales had the golden goal.

The Highlanders are defending back-to-back North Coast Section Division 4 champions. But neither of their championship teams were able to beat the Yellowjackets.

“I think it’s very exciting,” said captain Riley Stratman. “Beating a Berkeley squad that had posted such amazing results such as beating Monte Vista. I’m pumped up, the team’s pumped and everyone is still feeling the win.”

To top it off, Piedmont then defeated Castro Valley 1-0 on Jan. 25. The teams had tied 2-2 earlier in the season.

“From warmups, we didn’t play quite the way we needed to,” Stratman said. “We were quite high (after the Berkeley win), maybe hungover, maybe some of us weren’t even in the right mindset.”

However, when Aiden Woolwine scored late, it capped a strong week for Piedmont.

Stratman said the team was a little too fired up for a game against Bishop O’Dowd back on Jan. 19 (a 3-1 loss). But against Berkeley, the team seemed more calm.

“Going into this game, I don’t think it was the same,” Stratman said. “I think we had a lot of confidence going into this game. Especially after Enzo scored the goal. We thought we’re going to work our butts off the next 60 minutes and win the game.”

Stratman said Bernales’ goal came after teammate Jake Faucher tried to take a shot but flubbed it. The ball rolled right to Bernales and he put it home into the lower right corner of the net.

In the win over Castro Valley, Woolwine was attempting a cross but the goalkeeper fumbled the ball and it went in.

Aiden Woolwine (39), Nikolas Markopoulos (22), and Enzo Bernales (10) at Berkeley on Jan. 23, 2024. (Photo by Scott Stratman.)

Stratman said the Highlanders came into the season with measured expectations coming off of the two championship seasons.

“From the outside there are much more expectations than the inside,” he said. “It’s a pretty new squad. A lot of players coming up from (junior varsity), the freshmen never playing high school soccer before, we thought maybe it was going to be a transition year. We had expectations but we didn’t think it would come to this.

“Over the season they shifted. Its been great to see it. This win really means something for the program.”

The team has matches against Mt. Eden (Jan. 30) and San Leandro (Feb. 1) in the coming week. Then, it closes with Bishop O’Dowd (Feb. 6) and Berkeley (Feb. 8). The latter is hoped to be hosted at the renovated Witter Field for Senior Night.

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