Six Orange County girls’ soccer teams continue their quest today for a Southern Section title as they enter the semifinal round of the Southern Section playoffs.
In the 4-A division, top-seeded Esperanza (24-0-2) will play host to fifth-seeded Simi Valley (23-2-2), and second-seeded Capistrano Valley (20-4-1) will play host to third-seeded Royal (21-1-2).
In the 3-A, sixth-seeded Canyon (18-2-3) will travel to second-seeded Mater Dei (23-4-2), and Kennedy (13-9-1) will travel to top-seeded Agoura (21-0). Valencia (17-6-0) will travel to top-seeded Temple City (18-0-2) in a 2-A semifinal.
All matches start at 3 p.m.
For Esperanza, the 4-A’s only undefeated team, today’s match should provide the Aztecs with their toughest opponent this season. In last Friday’s quarterfinals, Simi Valley managed a 1-0 shutout over Mission Viejo, the three-time defending 4-A champion.
It was a victory that Simi Valley Coach Mark Johnson deemed unrealistic three weeks ago, saying:
“Right now, I would not want to play Mission Viejo. They want to win it all, they have tradition, they have all the emotional hype. . . . Good luck to whoever has to play Mission. They’re going to be awful hard to stop.”
How does Johnson feel about meeting Esperanza?
“I’ve seen them play, and they have one of the best defenses around,” he said. “They’re very strong in the midfield. If they have any weakness, it may be that they don’t produce the goals that you’d expect from a team that strong.”
Esperanza and Simi Valley are both defense-oriented teams, so a low-scoring or overtime match is a strong possibility. Esperanza is led by sophomore Lynn Murray and junior Michelle Rullo on offense, and goalkeeper Tymerie Busser.
Capistrano Valley had a nervous quarterfinal against Corona del Mar Friday before defeating the Sea Kings, 2-0, on two goals by Becky Linhart in the game’s final 5 minutes.
Through most of the match, the Cougars suffered from inconsistent play. Capistrano Valley might need to raise its play a notch today, as Royal has lost only to Simi Valley this season.
In the 3-A, Mater Dei looked strong in a 6-1 quarterfinal victory against Long Beach Wilson Friday. The Monarchs, anchored by team captain and goalkeeper Michelle Lodyga and midfielder Tina Manfre, are one of the strongest defensive teams in the Southern Section.
Canyon upset third-seeded Moreno Valley, 1-0, Friday, and could present problems for Mater Dei with standouts Christa Ramirez and goalie Keri Erkenbrack.
After a 2-0 victory over El Modena Friday, unseeded Kennedy--led by sophomore Stacey Darin and junior Krista Darin--should meet its toughest opponent of the season in Agoura.
Agoura, which benefits from a strong area club soccer program, the Agoura Angels, won the 2-A title in 1986, 1987 and 1988 before moving to the 3-A this season.
In the 2-A, Valencia will meet the division’s only undefeated team in Temple City. Valencia, which is led by Debbie LaPorte, lost to Temple City, 3-1, in the Cerritos tournament in December.