SANTA BARBARA — Unhappy with his team’s defensive effort, Corona del Mar High Coach Aaron Chaney let his players know it at halftime.
CdM was down by three goals Friday to Laguna Beach in a Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions quarterfinal, and things appeared bleak.
Sea Kings senior Allison Peotter took the criticism to heart, but in the end she came up huge. Peotter scored the game-winning goal with 20 seconds left, lifting CdM to a 6-5, come-from-behind win at Santa Barbara High and into today’s semifinals.
The Sea Kings (9-5) will play Dos Pueblos today at 11:10 a.m. at Dos Pueblos High in Goleta. Newport Harbor faces Foothill in the other semifinal at 12:15 p.m.
The tournament’s championship game is at 4:35 p.m. at Dos Pueblos.
CdM hopes to be there after coming back from deficits of 4-1, and 5-3 against Laguna Beach, its former Pacific Coast League rival.
“[Chaney] was getting really [upset] because we were making bad mistakes, crashing back,” Peotter said of her coach’s halftime talk. “He yelled at me pretty badly, then I got really [upset] at myself. We were just all talking at the wall, like, ‘We can do this.’ ”
Laguna Beach’s Annika Dries scored at two meters to give the Breakers a 5-3 lead early in the fourth, but then CdM’s Victoria Kennedy answered from set to pull the Sea Kings within a single goal with three minutes, 39 seconds left.
After a steal by Heather Van Hiel, Peotter scored from the left with 1:58 to play to knot the score. Then, Peotter crashed back for a steal on Dries, after good set defense from Elise Molnar pushed the Laguna Beach standout away from two meters.
Peotter then scored her game-winner on a pass from senior Carissa Dice, and Dries’ last-second shot was high.
“There were five seconds left on the shot clock,” Peotter said. “All I knew was that someone had to shoot it, and I was open and I called for it. I didn’t even know it went in. I was so happy because we’re in top four [of the tournament].”
Laguna Beach had stormed to the 4-1 halftime lead behind two goals from junior Natasha Schulman.
“We started countering really hard in the third quarter, and I think that caught them off-guard a little bit,” Chaney said. “You have a five-minute halftime, and sometimes teams fall off, and sometimes teams have a tendency to really pick it up … I thought our girls really picked it up.”
Kennedy had two goals and Molnar helped hold Montebello senior standout Sarah Orozco scoreless as CdM won in the first round, 5-2.
Tournament of Champions
Corona del Mar 6, Laguna Beach 5
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CdM – Peotter 2, Van Hiel 1, Kennedy 1, Molnar 1, Kaczmarek 1. Saves – Baldoni 6.
LB – Schulmann 2, Dries 2, L. Ross 1. Saves – Zuziak 4.
Corona del Mar 5, Montebello 2
SCORE BY QUARTERS
M – Martinez 2. Saves – Connell 1.
CdM – Kennedy 2, Van Hiel 1, Molnar 1, Kaczmarek 1. Saves – Baldoni 12.