Los Alamitos, struggling from the start, came to life late in the first half and defeated Trabuco Hills, 1-0, in a Division I first-round girls' soccer playoff game Saturday at Los Alamitos High.
From the start, Trabuco Hills (18-5-3) was all over the Griffins, who were out of formation and having trouble passing. But by halftime, the Mustang offense had stopped going to the ball or following through, and instead was dinking the ball around. Meanwhile, Los Alamitos (17-5-2) was coming to life.
"Early on, we were struggling," Los Alamitos Coach Rich Manning said. "But later in the first half we woke up more."
Trabuco Hills came out shooting in the second half, but blew two consecutive chances to score directly in front of goalkeeper Heather Thomas. Six minutes into the half, Los Alamitos (17-5-2) scored the lone goal of the game--messy but good.
Sommer Hammoud took a long pass from Brittany Savelkoul at the right post. Keeper Ricia Gonnering fell on the ball, but it rolled away--not behind her into the goal, but to her right, toward the center of the goal. As Gonnering struggled to rise and change direction, Hammoud kicked the ball around her own teammate and a Mustang defender who had rushed in.
Trabuco Hills had 10 shots on goal in the second half, but Thomas saved six, and four sailed just outside the goal.
But Mustang Coach Kevin Otsuji still was thrilled with his players' efforts.
"No one expected us to do much of anything, but we had a great year," he said. "We moved from Division VIII to Division I, and took second in the South Coast League.
"The key this year was that after every game we should be able to say 'no regrets,' " Otsuji said. "And of this game, like the 25 others we've played, I have no regrets."
Said Manning: "The soccer element wasn't great, but the win sure was."