Marina girls’ soccer rides stingy defense to first CIF final in 28 years
A shutout in soccer is sometimes called a “clean sheet.”
The Marina High girls’ soccer team has been doing some serious laundry this postseason.
The Vikings have produced four straight shutouts in the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs. They have yet to concede a goal heading into the championship match, which will be played against No. 3-seeded Moorpark on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Long Beach.
It is Marina’s first CIF finals appearance in girls’ soccer since winning the last of three straight titles in 1995. The Vikings have been solid on offense, scoring 10 goals in the playoffs, but the defense has also put them on the precipice of winning this year’s crown.
Sophomore goalkeeper Taylee Vo is fronted by center backs Kiera Miskelly and Erika Torrez, both seniors. Junior Giana Ortenzo and senior Riley Crosby typically start at the outside back positions, while senior Lauren Rice and sophomore Kayden Smith, a transfer from Mater Dei, have also been vital parts of the defensive rotation.
Wave League champion Marina (11-5-7) has 12 shutouts on the season, including in six of its last seven matches.
“It’s been a great combination of individual performance, and as a whole unit just staying organized and composed and backing each other up,” sixth-year Marina coach Heath Oberle said. “When there’s a little slip up or whatever, there’s somebody there to cover for them. It’s been — I’ll say perfect because they haven’t been scored on, right? It’s been a perfect combination so far.”
It’s not like the Vikings haven’t faced top talents. In a 2-0 home win over Claremont Webb in the second round of the playoffs, they had to contend with Penn-bound Abbey Cook. In a 2-0 semifinal upset at top-seeded La Puente Bishop Amat, they shut down Mimi Dominguez. Both players had scored 40-plus goals this season.
“We try to build each other up with our success,” Miskelly said. “If we make a mistake, we support each other. We don’t get on each other.”
Miskelly said this postseason run has been like a dream come true. But it hasn’t been fluky. In 10 matches in the rugged Sunset Conference, Marina gave up just six total goals.
Vo had a penalty-shot save in the Vikings’ quarterfinal 6-5 shootout win at Chino Hills Ayala.
“You always hope for things like this to happen,” Miskelly said. “It was always a thought in the back of our minds, and of course we were working toward it, but it wasn’t like we were automatically going to go there. Now that we’re here, it’s really cool, and I think we definitely deserved it. We worked hard and earned our spot here. It’s not like it was just given to us.”
No matter Saturday’s outcome, the Vikings will continue the postseason next week in the CIF State Southern California Regional playoffs. But winning a CIF Southern Section title also would be extremely significant.
The Vikings have a reminder on their squad to show them how long it has been. Sophomore midfielder Courtney Hames’ mother Carrie, then known by her maiden name of Carrie Florgan, won a CIF title as a goalkeeper in the program before graduating in 1994.
With four seniors among the six on the current Vikings’ back line, they are also ready to earn the hardware.
“It’s super-cool, especially because we’re seniors,” Rice said. “To go out with a bang is really exciting. Hopefully we’ll pave the way for future generations and classes.”
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