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Seniors spark Costa Mesa girls’ soccer to third straight league crown

Costa Mesa's Brianna Calderon (15) runs up to congratulate Belen Ramirez after a goal against Saddleback on Thursday.
Costa Mesa’s Brianna Calderon (15) runs up to congratulate Belen Ramirez after a goal during an Orange Coast League girls’ soccer game against Saddleback on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Senior night turned out to be everything the Costa Mesa High School girls’ soccer team could have hoped for.

Five seniors scored a goal for the host Mustangs in a 5-0 win over Saddleback on Thursday, as Costa Mesa secured its third consecutive Orange Coast League championship on the final day of the regular season.

Belen Ramirez had a goal and an assist, both in the second half, to lead the Mustangs (7-3-6, 6-0-4, 22 points). Her goal came from the right side of the box in the 58th minute.

Hopeful to get more teammates involved on the scoresheet, Ramirez was able to play a shallow cross to Aubrey Hallman late in regulation. Hallman got just enough of it, sending the ball high in the air, but it came down under the crossbar and over the goal line.

“Super exciting,” Ramirez said of all nine of Costa Mesa’s seniors being on the field to finish the game. “From the time I was on varsity, not all of us got to play at the same time, and this last game that we did it, it was honestly a memorable thing.”

Sasha Olmedo opened the scoring for the Mustangs, beating two defenders before releasing her shot.

“I saw the perfect opportunity,” Olmedo said. “Everything was wide open, and so I decided to take my shot. It went in … and I was excited. I usually don’t take shots like that because I feel like I’m always going to blow them over, but you miss 100% of the goals you don’t take.”

Costa Mesa's Jazmin Lopez strikes the ball for a long-shot goal in an Orange Coast League girls' soccer game on Thursday.
Costa Mesa’s Jazmin Lopez strikes the ball for a long-shot goal in an Orange Coast League girls’ soccer game against Saddleback on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Mustangs got two more goals before halftime. Jazmin Lopez unleashed a 35-yard shot that found the top right corner in the 24th minute.

In the 32nd minute, Jevaughn Burns was on the receiving end of a throw-in from Ramirez. Burns then played a grounded cross to her left, and Carolina Osorio took a one-timer shot on the offering for a beautiful finish.

“The beginning of [the] second round [of league play] was a little bit rocky, but I love the way that we pulled through and just kept our heads up,” Burns said of the Mustangs winning another league title. “I love the team, the spirit that we have.

“We always keep each other motivated, and I think it was more the chemistry than anything that allowed us to get to where we are right now, and [I am] looking forward to seeing where it goes in the future.”

Saddleback (2-9, 2-8, six points) did not have many scoring chances, but those it did have were largely generated by center midfielder Jennifer Rico.

Costa Mesa teammate Jade Young (21), Carolina Osorio (7) and Jevaughn Burns (8) celebrate a goal in Thursday's game.
Costa Mesa teammate Jade Young (21), Carolina Osorio (7) and Jevaughn Burns (8) celebrate a goal during an Orange Coast League girls’ soccer game against Saddleback on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

After dropping its first three games of the season, Costa Mesa has gone undefeated the rest of the way. The Mustangs now look ahead to the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs, the pairings for which will be released at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

“Even though we’re in first place, I don’t know if we’re going to play a third-place team because of our record,” Costa Mesa coach Jason Boyce said, drawing attention to the team’s six ties.

Two of the draws the Mustangs picked up during league came against Santa Ana (8-2-4, 6-1-3, 21 points), which finished second in the league. Calvary Chapel (5-2-4, 5-2-3, 18 points) was third, and Estancia (6-5-2, 5-3-2, 17 points) was fourth in the standings.

A key cog for Costa Mesa this season was sophomore Itzel Ramirez, who had four goals and an assist in the matches against Santa Ana, factoring into all of the Mustangs’ offensive production in those contests.

“Her being humble and coachable and receptive to whatever it is that we’re doing, I couldn’t ask for a better leader and person,” Boyce said.

Costa Mesa's Kyra Kirsch (14) battles a Saddleback opponent at midfield for a loose ball in an Orange Coast League match.
Costa Mesa’s Kyra Kirsch (14) battles a Saddleback opponent at midfield for a loose ball in an Orange Coast League girls’ soccer game on Thursday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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