Moorpark outlasts Marina in penalties to win SoCal Division III regional girls’ soccer title
The Marina High girls’ soccer team had their backs against the wall before.
Against Moorpark in the CIF State Southern California Regional Division III championship game Saturday, the visiting Vikings faced a one-goal deficit and eventually had to calm their nerves in a high-intensity penalty-kick shootout.
It was not uncharted territory for the Vikings.
In the final seconds of regulation in what was the teams’ rematch of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 title match, Marina senior Riley Crosby equalized on a free-kick attempt that slipped through Moorpark goalkeeper Emma Ott’s fingers, sending the match into overtime, and, ultimately, into penalties.
After 14 tense rounds, Ott made the decisive save to lift Moorpark to an 11-10 win in the shootout over Marina following a 1-1 stalemate in regulation.
“Hats off to Moorpark,” Marina coach Heath Oberle said. “We played them twice, and they were great both times. They’re definitely deserved champions in both games, to be honest. If you’re going to lose, you want to lose to a team that you feel like earned it, and they definitely earned it both times.”
Marina (11-6-10) caps off a season in which it won its first Wave League title since 2020 and reached its first CIF Southern Section title game in 28 years, falling to Moorpark 2-1 in overtime. The regional title match was the first for the program.
“The girls just battle and I know, for me, and hopefully for them when they look back on it, they’ll just enjoy the journey and all the memories, on and off the field,” Oberle said.
“It’s a long, long season when you make it this far and it’s something that I think, if any of us were being honest, didn’t expect to be here at this point. It’s just an absolute pleasure to be a part of it and be along for the ride for so long.
The Vikings, seeded No. 3, reached the regional final after taking down No. 6 Bakersfield Centennial, 2-0, and No. 7 Portola in penalties.
Crosby echoed her coach’s thoughts about the season despite coming up short twice in two title matches.
“I don’t even think we expected to go this far in preseason,” Crosby said. “Preseason was a little rough for us, but we definitely improved. We got to the finals in both CIF [Southern Section] and regionals.”
After letting Crosby’s free kick slip by her, Ott made three saves in the shootout to give the Musketeers (19-4-1) the regional crown.
“She’s had her team’s back for so long that they know they just need to keep us in the game, and if we go to penalty kicks, she’ll figure out a way to get something done,” Moorpark coach Michael Alexander said. “In the end, she found a way to do it.”
Moorpark sophomore Zaina Barakat, who scored the winner in the section final, gave the top-seeded Musketeers the lead in the seventh minute, scoring straight from the corner kick.
The Musketeers’ pressure and physicality made it tough for the Vikings to retain possession and get into a passing rhythm throughout the first half, but Marina had much more time on the ball in the second half despite Moorpark’s consistent pressure.
The Vikings tallied eight shots in the second half, compared to just two in the first.
“For the most part it was just getting to refocus and remind themselves that they earned their spot there and they have to earn the opportunity to keep playing,” Oberle said.
Moorpark found opportunities to counter throughout the remainder of the match, but Vikings senior center back duo Kiera Miskelly and Erika Torrez made crucial tackles to keep the Musketeers from scoring from open play.
“Usually, when teams get scored on, they kind of break down,” said Torrez, who missed the regional opener and semifinal and was questionable coming into the game with a bone bruise. “We try to just go harder at them, harder at the other team to break them down.”
Six minutes into stoppage time, Marina senior Isabella Moawad was brought down at the edge of the box, setting up Crosby for the free kick that would tie the score late.
“I knew we only had a few seconds left,” she said. “I knew I had to put it away.”
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