Girls soccer: Mustangs' work pays off

Steve Virgen

CORONA DEL MAR - When Corona del Mar High and Costa Mesa meet in

girls soccer, it usually means a great game. The Pacific Coast League

matchup of Newport-Mesa District rivals lived up to the hype and then

some Wednesday, after the Sea Kings and Mustangs battled to a 1-1 tie on

CdM's field.

"It was a battle," CdM Coach Ron Evans said after he saw Costa Mesa

answer a 1-0 deficit with 11 minutes left. "(The game) was what I

expected. We did an exceptional job of maintaining our composure. But you

have to hand it to (the Mustangs). When you're down 1-0 on our field and

you score a goal, that's a sign of a class team. And Costa Mesa is a

class team."

After 65 minutes of scoreless soccer, which featured intense effort

from both sides, the Sea Kings (9-3-5, 2-0-2 in the PCL) and the Mustangs

(9-4-2, 2-1-1) traded goals within a three-minute span.

CdM, ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section Division IV, made good on an

effort from a free kick in front of the corner near Costa Mesa's net. CdM

junior Lauren Shepherdson looped a ball in front of the net and junior

Paige Janes headed it in to set off celebration for the Sea Kings.

But, Costa Mesa, ranked No. 10 in CIF Division IV, answered right

back, gaining the most out of its second corner kick of the game. Mesa

senior Lisa Dunn struck the ball on the corner kick and freshman Nilani

Duarte headed it in for the equalizer in the 69th minute.

"(The Mustangs) came right back," Costa Mesa Coach Dan Johnston said.

"We started playing some of our best soccer after (CdM) scored. I was

very pleased with our defense."

Janes and Duarte also played key roles as defenders. Janes swept away

scoring threats, while Duarte contributed in the Mustangs' solid

defensive effort.

CdM earned eight corner kicks, but the Mustangs stuffed the Sea Kings'

on each of the scoring chances. Sophomore goalkeeper Kaitlyn Gentling

recorded 10 saves and junior Devin Denman also supported defensively.

Even junior Sharon Day, known most for her scoring attributes,

defended superbly for the Mustangs. Day cleared away threats on a corner

kick and a free kick and a throw-in near Costa Mesa's net. She also came

back after suffering a head injury in the 59th minute.

Day collided with CdM offensive threat Allison Harvey, a senior who

crashed into Day when both went to head a high ball.

Day needed ice to soothe a swollen cheekbone, but she returned just

before Duarte's goal.

"I was very proud of the girls," Johnston said. "The kids really

responded."

CdM outshot Costa Mesa, 15-5, yet the Sea Kings fired off just one

shot after Duarte's goal.

Sea Kings goalkeeper Rachel Waters, a freshman, stopped four shots and

left the net at opportune times to end the Mustangs' scoring attacks.

"The girls are playing their hearts out," Evans said in response to

the Sea Kings' second straight tie game. "We're doing some great stuff

out there. I need to work into my sessions a few more finishing drills

and hopefully we slot a few more home. It's just tough because I know

(the Sea Kings) have their heads down because of the result. They need to

have their heads up because of what we're producing on the field. We're

playing well."CdM and Costa Mesa return to PCL action Tuesday at 3:15

p.m. The Sea Kings play at Northwood and the Mustangs host Laguna Beach.

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