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Hart Turns Tables on Chatsworth, 2-0

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In a game lit with bright sunshine and highlighted by two brilliant performances, Hart High defeated Chatsworth, 2-0, Wednesday in the final of the Hart girls’ soccer tournament.

Two of the region’s powers met in a replay of the 1997 tournament title game, when Chatsworth claimed a shootout victory.

This year, Chatsworth (10-2-1) limped into the final with holes in its lineup and an ankle injury to forward Jackie Fodor.

The result was predictable, although the Chancellors gave Hart a good run.

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The Indians (10-3-1) took a 1-0 lead seven minutes after halftime. A throw-in by Leah Sulett was headed on by Erin Misaki to Sara Dean, who settled the ball with her chest before lofting a 20-yard shot over goalkeeper Heather Collins of Chatsworth.

Hart struck again in the 62nd minute when a poor clearing punt by Collins was collected by Misaki, who sent the ball back over the keeper’s head and into the net from 30 yards.

Misaki, a member of the U.S. under-18 national team who is considered to be the region’s best girls’ player, lived up to her billing. The 5-foot-3 midfielder alternated attacking runs and precision passing to dissect the Chatsworth defense, but downplayed her effort.

“I didn’t think I played that well but luckily everyone picked me up,” Misaki said.

“I felt I wasn’t collecting the ball well and that I was waiting too much for it to be played to my feet.”

Despite her two miscues, Collins was superb in the Chatsworth goal. Normally a defender, the sophomore was switched earlier this season when Tina Essington became academically ineligible.

Collins, arguably the team’s best athlete, only recently began playing entire games at her new position and stopped 14 shots.

That Hart had that many cracks at the goal was evidence of the time and space the Indians were allowed.

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With defender Tonya Schmidt on vacation and forward Leila Pate moved back to fill her spot, Chatsworth’s trademark passing game was ineffective and its defense suspect.

“We were really tired and we broke down,” Collins said. “Everyone kept working but it wasn’t enough.”

Hart lost to region powers Chaminade and Harvard-Westlake earlier this month but Coach Oliver Germond said a turnaround was sparked by several position switches and an airing of personality clashes within his team, which has made two consecutive trips to the Southern Section Division I semifinals.

“We started doubting ourselves and pointing fingers,” Germond said. “But now we’re settled and we’ve got our confidence back.”

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