The Laguna Beach High girls' soccer team seems to be finding its stride in the stretch run of the regular season.
The Breakers ran their unbeaten streak to five games and continued to hold on to first place in the Orange Coast League standings by taking out visiting Saddleback, 3-1, at Guyer Field Tuesday. The victory put Laguna at 5-1-1 in league, a record also held by Estancia, and gave the Breakers their 10th win (10-5-3) of the season.
Coach Bill Rolfing said his team's first-half performance Tuesday proved to difference in the game. Junior Audrey Pillsbury put Laguna on the scoreboard first. She scored on a 25-yard free kick that made its way into the far-upper corner of the Saddleback goal 20 minutes into the half. Ten minutes later, junior defender Janie Crawford took a nice, outside pass from senior midfielder Johana Abarca, and weaved her way through a trio of Saddleback defenders to score from five yards out.
The Laguna defense gave up its first goal in three games when the Roadrunners scored in the second half to narrow to Breakers' lead to 2-1. The Breakers had a quick response and got the goal back when a corner kick by sophomore forward Katelyn Carballo scored off a corner kick.
Rolfing said Abarca and Carballo "played well holding the midfield," and Pillsbury "created fits for the Saddleback defense with her dribbling and passing game."
Kara Dunne-Dombrink, who has replaced injured starter Kylie George in the Laguna goal, registered her fourth win. corded her fourth win fronted by the "stellar defense" of Crawford, junior Amy Hewlett, senior Tessa Hopper, and sophomore Summer Stanaland, Rolfing said.
"The speed and technique of Saddleback was a challenge from the start, but the (Breakers) teamwork proved to bring rewards offensively," Rolfing said. "Combination passing can look very nice, but it also must be effective by producing scoring opportunities. Tonight, we found success with up top."
Laguna won its fourth league contest Jan. 30 by blanking host Estancia, 1-0, for its third consecutive shutout victory.
It was a key triumph for the Breakers who handed the Eagles their first OCL loss in two years, Rolfing said.
A first half volley into the goal by senior forward Katelyn Carballo gave the Breakers the crucial road win. Rolfing praised the play of juniors Audrey Pillsbury and Paige Vitolo on offense and a defense that shut down the Eagles who had several offensive attacks in the final minutes.
Laguna played Saddleback Thursday ,but the score wasn't available at press time. The league season ends next week for the Breakers, who play host to Calvary Chapel at 5 p.m. Monday at Guyer Field, and play a 6:30 p.m. game Wednesday against Costa Mesa at Estancia High.
"The team needs to stay disciplined and tight in the defensive third of the field," Rolfing said in regards to the final three games of the regular season. "The offense is free-flowing at this point, but must be initiated by unselfish midfield distribution. As long as this recipe stays in place, the Breakers can stay in the hunt."
The Breakers set up a Friday showdown with Godinez by blanking visiting Saddleback, 3-0, Wednesday at Guyer Field.
Senior Rory Saunders, sophomore Logan Eastman and junior Harrison Gregory scored for Laguna, ranked sixth in CIF Southern Section Division 5, which ran its league mark to 5-1-1 and overall record to 8-5-4.
"The result was always going to be the most important aspect of this game and the lads knew nothing but a win would do," Laguna Coach Dan Richards said. "The performance in the first half was definitely not as good as it should be. Saddleback did a good job of taking us out of our rhythm and with the windy conditions, it was a very ugly game of soccer. Rory's (Saunders) goal was the only real positive note."
Eastman scored from the back post to start the second-half scoring. Gregory later scored on a header off a delivery from senior Chris Tellez.
Laguna hosts ninth-ranked Godinez (4-0-3) in league at 6:30 p.m. Friday. The teams played to scoreless tie two weeks ago when the Grizzlies were the top-ranked team in Division 5.
"The boys have put themselves in a great position and have come a very long way in such a short space of time," Richards said. "We know Friday's game is going to be very tough with every result having huge implications on playoff positions and a possible league title."
In a league game played Jan. 31, Laguna used a goal by Edward Willette to edge host Estancia, 1-0.
"I'm immensely proud of what the boys achieved," Richards said of the win. "Going on the road and beating a very strong team really shows the character among the squad. I thought we played really well for the first 25 minutes and really showed we can play with anyone in the division.
"Players all the way through the team had very strong and mature performances, making sure we would leave the game with our heads held high no matter the result."
Next week, the Breakers conclude league play with two games starting with a 6:30 p.m. Tuesday home match against Calvary Chapel. They wrap up the regular season with a 5 p.m. Thursday game against Costa Mesa at Estancia High.
CIF Weekly Rankings
Boys' Soccer: Laguna Beach (No. 6, Division 5).