Corona del Mar High senior girls' soccer goalie Kendall Mulvaney said she knew Fountain Valley was going to shoot to the right — her left — in the shootout.
It worked the first time the teams played, in late December when the Barons won a consolation game at the North Orange County Classic via shootout.
But Friday night at Jim Scott Stadium, Mulvaney, the four-year varsity player, was ready.
And, while CdM surely has a long way to go on its quest for its first-ever CIF title, the Sea Kings just as surely have been giving their fans their money's worth in the last three games.
Mulvaney got low to block the final penalty kick at the end near the right post, helping CdM win the CIF Southern Section Division 1 first-round playoff game in the shootout, 4-3, after the Sea Kings and Barons played to a 1-1 tie through regulation and overtime.
She was immediately mobbed by members of both her team and the CdM boys' soccer team, who were watching the shootout near the west goal of the stadium.
"Are we making a documentary or movie or something?" CdM Coach Bryan Middleton wondered aloud after his team moved on with yet another suspenseful victory, similar to the 2-1 win over Beckman and 3-2 comeback victory over Northwood last week that propelled CdM (12-5-4) to its fourth straight Pacific Coast League title. "My head hurts."
CdM will play Upland, the second-place team from the Baseline League, in the second round on Wednesday. The site will be determined via a coin flip on Saturday.
Fountain Valley (12-6-7), an at-large team from the Sunset League, seemed to have the advantage in the shootout with the way that junior keeper Alison Marlow was playing in regulation. She made 10 saves, a couple of them spectacular. And, after CdM's Shelby Brown scored the first penalty kick goal in the shootout and Fountain Valley answered, Marlow blocked the shot of CdM senior Miranda Stiver.
But not so fast. Mulvaney protested to the referee that Marlow had left her line early, and the referees agreed after conferring. Stiver scored on her second-chance effort.
"You know as a goalie when keepers step off the line," said Mulvaney, who recorded her first shootout win since she earned MVP honors at the Sacred Heart tournament as a sophomore two years ago. "It was a great save, obviously, but it could only happen if she stepped off the line. Miranda saw it, and I saw it ... I didn't want to be that annoying goalkeeper, but I was like, 'Sir, did you see that? She's off the line.' I just fought for it.
"You could tell, and I think she knew also. It was heartbreaking, because if someone did that to me, I'd be heartbroken. But at the end of the day, she would have done it to me. In all honesty, I wouldn't have been able to sleep if they would have won off that save."
Fountain Valley's Ryann Callaghan answered to tie the shootout score at 2-2. After CdM's Zoe Condon scored, a Fountain Valley shot clanged off the right post. But Marlow came up big to make a save on the ensuing shot, again keeping her team in the game.
Fountain Valley added another goal to tie the score at 3-3 after four rounds. CdM's Nicole Lloyd then lofted a shot just over the leaping Marlow, giving the hosts a 4-3 lead, and Mulvaney was there at the end to win the game for the Sea Kings.
Mulvaney only had to make two saves in regulation, but one was huge with four minutes left in the second overtime period. She dove to her right to keep the game going in the golden-goal format.
"I was definitely way more nervous [heading into the shootout], because [Marlow] was coming up with amazing saves," Mulvaney said. "Luckily, they had that shot at the end that woke me up, that I had to go for. That made me more confident. At the end of the day, PKs are all about reading the ball and reacting, but I was definitely nervous. She was definitely on fire."
The Barons took a 1-0 halftime lead after Kasey Reeve scored her team-best 13th goal in the 22nd minute, after Jessica Bracken fought to keep the ball in near the end line and crossed it. But CdM answered in the 55th minute, when junior Birkley Sigband took the long pass from Brown near the upper-right part of the box.
Sigband quickly shot it, a perfectly angled ball that crept in just inside the left post. After the game, she smiled when asked about CdM's last three crazy games.
"That's the fun of it," Sigband said. "It's not fun to play teams when we kill them or get killed. It's always fun to have a good match ... we just got lucky.
"I'm so happy [with the win]. We just have to prove ourselves ... we're going to go off adrenaline on the next [game]."
CdM played without sophomore midfielder Maddison Roberts, who said she fractured her ankle earlier this week in practice. Junior defender Brianna Westrup suffered a leg injury in the first overtime period, but came back in a few minutes later.
"Ice it," Middleton said to Westrup, knowing that nothing is on ice with his team these days until the final whistle blows.