In Kevin Macare's first four seasons as girls' soccer coach at Laguna Hills, the Hawks didn't win a playoff game. They never even scored a goal in the playoffs.
Times have changed. Laguna Hills has scored 13 goals in four playoff victories leading up to today's Southern Section Division II semifinal at top-seeded Ventura Buena.
"We've surprised a lot of people," Macare said. "I don't think anyone expected us to get where we are now."
Early in the Pacific Coast League season, some might not have expected the Hawks to make the playoffs after they lost their first two games. But they regrouped, didn't give up a goal in their final eight league games and finished second.
After outscoring their first two playoff opponents, 9-1, the Hawks (15-7-3), the only wild-card team in the Division II semifinals, upset Canyon and fourth-seeded La Crescenta Crescenta Valley last week.
Troy scored only three points in the fourth quarter against La Habra--which scored only seven--and lost, 44-41, and dropped into a first-place tie with the Highlanders in the next-to-last game of the regular season in girls' basketball.
But Warrior Coach Brad Sand faced the music afterward.
The reporter's question: "So, was that the worst you've played in the fourth quarter?"
"Actually," he said, "we've had some pretty bad quarters."
Troy scored only five points in the first quarter, nine in the second and eight in the fourth in its 58-33 quarterfinal loss to Torrance Bishop Montgomery.
Before the Division V-A boys' basketball quarterfinal, Orangewood Academy Coach Eric Thorson said his center, 6-7 senior Micah Lloyd, wasn't playing aggressive enough.
Despite foul trouble, Lloyd had 13 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots Thursday in a 73-72 victory over second-seeded Los Angeles Pilgrim.
"That was totally out of character," Thorson said. "But it was good to see. Micah stepped up big."
Basketball fever has swept Orangewood Academy, which is participating in its first season of varsity competition.
According to Thorson, who is also the athletic director, the Spartans have chartered two buses to make the trip to Chadwick High in Palos Verdes for the semifinal game against Palos Verdes Rolling Hills Prep.
"The school spirit has been unbelievable," Thorson said.
In a second-round game at Wildomar Cal Lutheran, another large Orangewood contingent made the trip to Riverside County to cheer the Spartans to a 45-42 overtime victory.
The Woodbridge boys' soccer team, which plays host to Rancho Cucamonga in the semifinals of the Division III playoffs today, has advanced further into the playoffs than any soccer team in school history. Still, the Warriors are most proud of winning the Sea View League title.
Many were surprised when Woodbridge, then unranked in the Orange County poll, beat top-ranked Santa Margarita. Not the Warriors.
"We were on a 10-game winning streak when we finally beat Santa Margarita and that was the first time we were even noticed in the poll," first-year Coach Jon Szczuka said. "The kids were really fighting for respect all year. I guess now is the best time to get it."
Among the wildest of the girls' basketball wild-card games in Division IV-AA was Corona del Mar's 63-51 victory over L.A. Sacred Heart of Jesus. The final tally? There were 58 fouls and 69 free throws in the 1-hour 50-minute game, and eight players fouled out--although one from Sacred Heart was reinserted into the lineup without anyone catching it.
"It was," Corona del Mar Coach Garth Flint said, "the most unusually officiated game I've ever been a part of."
The Ocean View girls' basketball team won 14 consecutive games--at the time the longest active streak of the county--before losing to Marina on Saturday. The Seahawks' previous loss took place Dec. 30 in the fifth-place game of the Marina Tournament, so one could say the Seahawks were perfect in 1995.
Well, maybe not.
"Actually, they lost on January 3," Seahawk assistant coach Kristin Brun said.
"We had an alumni game," Brun said, "and the alumni beat them. Tracy Wolfe was hitting and they couldn't stop her."
Brun, a 1992 Ocean View graduate, not only played for the alumni but coached the squad of ex-Seahawks, so when Seahawk Coach Ollie Martin wants to analyze his team's weaknesses, he can turn to the last coach to beat his squad. She's right down the bench.
Estancia boys' basketball Coach Tim Parsel was in such a hurry to get some game film on tonight's Division III-A semifinal opponent Goleta Dos Pueblos that he personally drove to Santa Barbara and back on Saturday--for him a round trip of 250 miles.
No faith in a courier service?
"No, I just wanted to make sure we had something," Parsel said, chuckling at himself.
He saw enough to be convinced that Dos Pueblos is almost a mirror image of Estancia.
"They have the same kind of size we do, although I think our guards are a little bigger, and they also run a double-high post offense like us which not many teams run," Parsel said. "They seem real balanced. The closest team I can compare them to that we have played would be Santa Ana Valley, although they don't have a guard as good as Olujimi Mann."
The two- to three-hour drive from Costa Mesa to Santa Barbara has Parsel a bit worried, so the Eagles will leave early in the day, then get hotel rooms and relax for a few hours.
For years, boys' high school soccer coaches have complained that the two-official system is simply not working. Al Padilla, chairman of instruction for Southern California high school soccer officials, is familiar with their pleas.
"There are some very blatant fouls in the middle happening," Padilla said. "You're always too far away from incidents with two officials. The three-man system would take care of a lot of that."
Padilla says change is coming, but slowly.
"We'd go to three officials tomorrow if possible," Padilla said. "The problem we have is most schools schedule their games in the afternoon, when only two officials are available.
"It's going to come down to getting more qualified officials available in the afternoon. It would also help if we could get high schools to play night games or if they could go to weekends. That way, we would have more officials available."
Padilla said he is trying to recruit as many young officials as possible.
"We're trying to get more youth involved, because a lot of our officials now are older. The kids are getting faster and better than the organization's officials can keep up with."
Padilla said his association added about 60 officials from Orange County this year and they hope to attract even more at their camp in August. Those interested in becoming soccer officials may call Padilla at (714) 962-6367 or president Chester Easter at (909) 824-5833.
With Huntington Beach providing a 67-54 upset of University in the first round of the girls' Division II-AA playoffs, it eliminated Coach Bob Bernal--who turned out to be a pretty decent quote in defeat:
--On the offense of Huntington Beach, which doesn't have anyone taller than 5-8: "They all drive and shoot; they all look the same."
--On Huntington Beach's hounding defense: "I don't think anybody in the Pacific Coast League plays like these guys except our boys' team."
--On Huntington Beach guard Phouangmaly Pravongviengkham: "That's the best name I ever lost to."
Westminster's Amber Farroux averaged 25 points and 19 rebounds in the Lions' two basketball playoff victories, but Farroux--a 6-2 center who will play at UNLV next year--met her match in the Division II-AA quarterfinals. Going up against one of the most highly recruited juniors in the state, Mission Hills Alemany's 6-4 center Carly Funicello, Farroux scored only two points and had five rebounds. Funicello scored 22 points in Alemany's 65-34 victory.
A bigger night by Farroux and she would have been the school's single-season scoring leader; she finished with 415 points, seven fewer than Geannine Battaglia (1985), who went on to star at Golden West and then Cal State Fullerton. Farroux did set the single-season (256) and career (615) rebounding records.
On top of that, April Ramirez nearly doubled the single-season assist record with 117; she also set a career assist mark (185) and single-season three-point record (36).
If some of those records seem soft, it's because Westminster has never been much for basketball. The Lions' quarterfinal appearance was the furthest they had ever gone in the playoffs. The girls' 17-11 record is second only to the 1970 boys' team (21-7) in the school's basketball history; no other team before or since has won more than 14 games, according to Coach Dick Katz.
Fairmont guard Roy Kim has been named to the All-Freedom League team. Kim, a sophomore, averaged 10.9 points and 7.6 assists for the Huskies, who finished 3-16.
He was the only Orange County player named among the first-year league's selections.
Not many Sonora basketball players had seen the Compton Dominguez gym in which they played Friday's Division III-AA quarterfinal game, but for center Craig Clark, it felt like a second home.
Clark played there often over the summer. "I really like this place," he said beforehand.
Clark liked it enough to score 24 points despite a bad knee which limited his ability to jump, but it wasn't enough to keep the Raiders from being upset by Compton Centennial, 62-58, in overtime. The smaller Apaches had a 36-32 edge on the boards, being only the second team this season to outrebound Sonora. Tustin was the first.
Entry openings are still available for the Katella High Jack Big Head Relays, scheduled for March 17-18. There are slots for five boys' teams, freshman and varsity, and four girls' teams, freshman only. Coach Mike Cochrane is also looking for track team alumni to work as timers and judges. For more information, call Cochrane at (714) 999-3647 or 999-3621.
Huntington Beach won the Division 4-A boys' championship and Capistrano Valley took the boys' 3-A title at the 12th California Interscholastic Surfing Federation championships held over the weekend at Oceanside Harbor.
Defending champion Dana Hills won the girls' 4-A title, edging Carlsbad, 12.5-8.5. In the 3-A bodyboard finals, Rancho Buena Vista defeated Santa Margarita, 12-9.
The top-seeded Huntington Beach boys held off Dana Hills, 43-38, to regain the 4-A title they lost last year despite losing top surfer Bill Oswald to disqualification.
Capistrano Valley edged Fountain Valley, 22-20, for the 3-A championship.
In the bodyboard finals--in which the girls are scored individually instead of as a team--Rancho Buena Vista's Jessica Taft won the title ahead of Capistrano Valley's Kris Plunkett.
Times staff writers Martin Henderson, Michael Itagaki, Dave McKibben and Mike Terry and correspondent Eric Maddy contributed to this story.