It has taken just two matches for the Marina High girls’ soccer team to turn the Sunset League standings upside down.
The Vikings were winless in league a year ago. Now, they sit alone in first place after Thursday afternoon’s 1-0 victory over rival Edison at Marina High.
In stunning defending league champion Edison, Marina (14-1-3, 2-0-0 in league) extended its unbeaten streak to 17 matches. The Vikings haven’t been beaten since losing 1-0 to Pacifica in a season opener on Nov. 30.
Last year, the Vikings finished 0-9-1 in league, but there appears to be a different energy this season. The Vikings broke a four-match losing streak to Edison, beating the Chargers for the first time since Feb. 5, 2015.
“I’m ecstatic,” Marina first-year coach Heath Oberle said. “They just work hard. I don’t think we’re doing anything special. They just all push to be the hardest-working player on the field. When you’ve got 11 girls on the field who are giving 100%, you’re going to get results. That’s what we did today. We just worked and did not give up.”
Sophomore defender Lori Mandarino scored the goal for the Vikings in the 25th minute, off a corner kick from the left. Instead of booting it toward the goal, junior team captain Kellie Hallworth tapped a pass to Mandarino, who curved in a shot just inside the far post from about 25 yards.
Mandarino said the goal was her first of the season, but she’s been working on the shot in practice.
“It’s one of those balls you shoot far post,” Oberle said. “You know that if you miss, it turns into a cross. If you don’t miss, it turns into that. It’s nice when it falls for you.”
The Vikings kept working to generate chances, with senior captain Erika Sosa and freshman Kaitlyn Paculba doing much of the work. Paculba gave Edison (5-4-4, 1-1-0) problems with her speed.
On the defensive side, Mandarino, senior captain Autumn Stewart, senior Sasha Kaplan and freshman McKenna Pua kept Edison scoreless. Marina junior goalkeeper Bella Carver made four saves.
“It felt really nice,” Mandarino said of beating Edison. “It’s definitely a change from last year. We held our own and we were very intense today. We put a lot of emotion into how we played.”
Edison senior captains Michael Guptill and Madi Macias, as well as junior Rachelle Elve, did put pressure on the Vikings in the second half. Macias had a couple of long free kicks that Carver bobbled, but she was able to cover up in time.
First-half keeper Jessica Oates made three saves for the Chargers, and senior captain Amy Kirk had two saves in the second half.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Edison coach Kerry Crooks said. “We played really great soccer, to tell you the truth. We just didn’t finish our chances. That was a beautiful shot that [Mandarino] took, so what can you do?
“We’ve been playing better and better every game. I can’t be upset with the way that they’re playing. They’re playing tough, great soccer. We just don’t have a lot of true forwards up there, and they’re learning [how to finish].”
Marina plays at Huntington Beach on Tuesday, while Edison plays host to Los Alamitos. Both matches start at 5 p.m.