Santa Margarita Blanks Diablos
Highly anticipated showdowns often turn out to be disappointing, but that was not the case Thursday when Santa Margarita hosted Mission Viejo in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section Division II girls’ soccer playoffs.
Santa Margarita defeated Mission Viejo, 2-0, by capitalizing on a few ill-timed Diablo mistakes.
But the crowd of about 400 that lined the field and stayed through the rain was treated to a relatively even and well-played game featuring some of the county’s top players, including Mission Viejo midfielder Stacy Dillard, who recently returned from a knee injury, and Santa Margarita goalkeeper Riki-Ann Serrins.
Santa Margarita (17-1-3) came out strong and scored in the eighth minute after talented Eagle freshman Casey Hamel took a free kick from about 25 yards in front of the goal. Mission Viejo goalkeeper Hannah Cochrun, a sophomore, tried to grab the ball but it bounced off her chest and Eagle Ami Aylor volleyed it high into the net for a goal.
Santa Margarita Coach Chuck Morales and Mission Viejo Coach George Larsen had talked before the game about “the importance of first blood,” Morales said.
Nevertheless, the early goal didn’t seem to disturb the Diablos.
“It didn’t bother us too much. We pretty much gave it to them,” Larsen said.
About 25 minutes into the first half, the Diablos began to step up the tempo and carried the pace into the second half. Mission Viejo (18-6-4) had three excellent chances in the first 20 minutes of the second half, including two shots that were the results of well-placed, penetrating passes. But the Diablo shots were not good enough to get past Serrins.
Morales said the Eagle victory boiled down to a couple of factors:
“Riki-Ann, Riki-Ann,” Morales said. “She stopped all the attacks. She didn’t fluster at all, especially in the end.”
Serrins, who will play for Maryland next fall, has given up only three goals all season and has nine shutouts.
It helps that Serrins has some of the most tactical players in the county in front of her.
“They are just so disciplined and they keep their shape and [have] great form and they don’t give teams very many chances with Riki back there in goal,” Larsen said.
As the game wound into its final minutes and the rain began to fall, Hamel solidified the victory with a goal on a corner kick in the 76th minute. She drove it low and straight from the corner to the goal, where it slipped past Cochrun on the wet ground.
Santa Margarita will play Ventura Buena (23-2-4) in the semifinals Tuesday.
In another Division II game:
Norco 2, Mater Dei 1--Denny Paggen scored with 15 minutes left to go as Norco upset third-seeded Mater Dei. Norco plays the winner of Mira Costa-South Torrance in the semifinals.
Kim Buccola scored first as Mater Dei took a 1-0 lead 15 minutes into the second half.
Yvette Vascones tied the score for Norco five minutes later.