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Breakers clinch playoff spot

COSTA MESA — The two high school girls’ soccer coaches met in the middle.

Estancia’s Jessica Gatica asked, “Where does this put you?”

Bill Rolfing of Laguna Beach smiled and said, “In the CIF!”

Laguna Beach tied Estancia, 1-1, in a pivotal Orange Coast League road match Tuesday night.

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Before the two coaches went their separate ways, Gatica asked Rolfing for help.

“Can you do me a favor?” she said. “Can you beat Costa Mesa for me?”

Rolfing laughed.

The Eagles were in no laughing mood after falling behind cross-town rival Costa Mesa in the league standings.

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Estancia (9-7-4, 3-0-4 in league) trails the first-place Mustangs.

Costa Mesa, which is 5-0-2 in league, has six points in league, compared to the Eagles’ five. Gatica said a point is rewarded for every victory and a half a point for every tie.

With one league match left in the regular season, Estancia needs to beat Calvary Chapel next week and have Laguna Beach beat Costa Mesa in order for the Eagles to share the league championship.

If this scenario doesn’t play out, Gatica is OK with finishing second to the Mustangs.

“We’ll be fine,” Gatica said. “We’ll still make [the] playoffs, which was the ultimate goal. Making playoffs makes everyone happy. It would always be nice as a first-year coach to win a league championship.”

It appeared Gatica was on her way last week to improving her league title hopes.

Then Costa Mesa hurt them. Estancia allowed the Mustangs to tie the match, 2-2, late.

The opposition burned the Eagles again at home in the second half.

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Laguna Beach’s Marina Paul tied it at 1-1 with a header off a corner kick in the 63rd minute. The Breakers celebrated because they inched closer to earning a playoff spot.

A win or a tie secured Laguna Beach (9-4-9, 3-2-2) the league’s third guaranteed postseason berth.

This one got away from Estancia.

The Eagles took a 1-0 lead on Alissa Scheafer’s goal right before halftime. Their scoring chances dwindled after Scheafer’s right-footed blast in the box gave her seven goals in league play.

“We lost a little composure,” Gatica said. “We needed to capitalize on their mistakes instead of continuing to make careless mistakes.”

In the second half, Laguna Beach created the most opportunities offensively. The Breakers pushed the action right from the start.

Alex DeGarmo appeared to have a breakaway goal for the Breakers when she stole the ball away from a defender.

The only other Estancia player back was goalkeeper Allyson Wallace.

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Wallace came out and struck the ball out of trouble before DeGarmo got a shot off.

Twelve minutes later, Wallace made another impressive stop. She leaped in the air and hit Holden Penney’s shot up, forcing it to go over the crossbar and out of play.

This gave Laguna Beach a corner kick. Which corner the kick would come from confused both coaches.

Jenny Maddocks jogged over to the left corner, on Laguna Beach’s sideline until being ordered by one of the officials to take the corner on the other side. The sophomore grabbed the ball and headed over to the other corner.

Once she arrived, Maddocks wasted no time. She delivered the ball deep into the box to Paul, who near the far post headed it into a wide-open net for the equalizer.

Gatica couldn’t believe it. Rolfing could.

“We just feel like we can play with anybody,” Rolfing said. “We’ve only lost four games out of 22.”

By next week, Gatica hopes it’s a win in the Breakers’ 23rd match.



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