Smits' kick wins it

CORONA DEL MAR — Senior Lauren Smits delivered the clincher, helping the Corona del Mar High girls’ soccer team overcome a first-half deficit Friday.

The Sea Kings beat Montclair, 4-2, in penalty kicks, as Smits’ PK won the game for the Sea Kings in a CIF Southern Section Division II first-round game.

CdM (13-6-5) rallied from an early one-goal deficit and tied the game to send it into overtime.

In the PK shootout, the Cavaliers shot first. Junior forward Erica Rivas had her back turned to the goalie and she prayed to score, but was unable to convert as her shot went over the crossbar.

Then it was the Sea Kings turn to shoot and sophomore defender Sydney Raguse calmly beat the keeper to give the Sea Kings a 1-0 lead.

Junior forward Jessica Aguirre was up for the Cavaliers and she took her shot and put it in the back of the net for the tie, 1-1. Senior forward Alexandra Reinach shot next for the Sea Kings and scored, beating the goalie near post.

Junior forward Shannen Martinez came up to shoot and Sea King sophomore goalie Savannah Vaughn made a diving save to her right to keep the lead for the Sea Kings.

CdM senior forward Kaylee O’Connor then shot and scored to increase the Sea Kings’ lead to 3-1. The Cavaliers (17-4-4) needed to convert their penalty kick to extend the shootout. Senior forward Yessenia Ortega stepped up and converted to make it 3-2.

All the Sea Kings needed to do was convert the penalty kick to win the game. Smits converted it.

“We expected them to be really physical and we were hoping our passing game would slow them down,” said Smits, a defender. “We kept our heads up and were nervous going into the PKs.”

The Sea Kings move on to the second round. They won the coin flip and will play host to Crescenta Valley Wednesday. The Falcons beat Knight of Palmdale, 2-0.

CdM saw itself down, 1-0, about 17 minutes into the first half. After a cross by senior forward Vanessa Machado, the Sea Kings were unable to clear the ball out of the box. Ortega ended up with the ball, took the shot and Vaughn deflected it, but Ortega recovered the ball and put it into the back of the net to give the Cavaliers an early lead.

Trying to overcome this deficit the Sea Kings were able to create an opportunity in the 15th minute, as senior midfielder Nikki Flinn beat a defender and passed the ball to senior forward Alexandra Reinach, who took the shot, but it sailed over the crossbar.

In the second half, the Sea Kings wanted the game-tying goal early and got it. Five minutes into the second half, O’Connor crossed a ball from about 35 yards out, the ball was flicked by sophomore midfielder Allyson Brahs in the 18-yard box. Senior midfielder Hayley Raguse ended up with the ball and scored the equalizer.

After the second half, regulation ended in a 1-1 tie going into overtime, where a golden goal would win the game. Heading into overtime, neither team had any potential scoring chances to end it.

“It feels good; we have been here before,” Sea Kings Coach Bryan Middleton said. “We made it to the quarterfinals last year and the girls know what it takes to get here.”

The Cavaliers should’ve played at home, but ended up at CdM because of a ball violation. Montclair didn’t use a Spalding soccer ball in last year’s CIF playoffs, breaking CIF rule 2400, Article 240, which states: Only balls with the National Federation authentication mark shall be used in the sport of soccer.

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