LAS FLORES — Senior captain Kennedy Mulvaney described the Corona del Mar High girls’ lacrosse team’s season as a roller-coaster ride.
The Sea Kings earned their first outright Pacific Coast League title in program history after beating Beckman twice, and that was a definite high.
They also lost the Battle of the Bay game to rival Newport Harbor for the first time in eight years, and that was a definite low.
“It’s definitely been one of our most chaotic seasons,” Mulvaney said. “We started strong, then we hit a roadblock.”
With a ride like that, the Sea Kings have definitely gotten their money’s worth headed into the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division playoffs. Now, the players on the team believe the squad can go on a playoff run. That’s especially true after, according to Mulvaney, CdM played its most complete game of the season Tuesday in the first round of the postseason.
No. 9-seeded CdM went on the road to claim a 12-8 win over No. 8 Tesoro. As a reward, the Sea Kings get to go on the road Thursday to face top-seeded Mater Dei, the defending county and Southern Section champion, in the quarterfinals.
Mater Dei is the team that knocked out CdM last year in the semifinals. The teams have met once this season, a 15-3 nonleague Monarchs’ win on March 16 that was close for a half.
To their credit, Coach Aly Simons’ Sea Kings (13-6) did put two halves together against Tesoro (10-8), the third-place team from the South Coast League.
“This is the only game where we came in strong and also finished strong,” sophomore midfielder Joslyn Simaan said.
The scoring was balanced, with senior co-captain Jensen Coop scoring three goals and senior Maria LaBruna, freshman Caroline Brewster and junior Emily Faludy putting in two each. Mulvaney, Simaan and sophomore Ellery Amdor added one goal each.
CdM started controlling more of the draws as the first half went on. Coop took all of the draws, while Mulvaney and Simaan combined to control nine of them in the first half. As a team, Tesoro earned just four draw controls in the first half.
Tesoro held a 3-2 lead with seven minutes remaining in the half, but CdM’s quick-striking attack took control. Coop scored a goal, then Faludy put in two straight scores. LaBruna added a goal, then Coop struck again for an 8-3 advantage with 4:10 remaining in the half.
Overall, the damage was six CdM goals in less than three minutes.
“It was definitely a possession game,” Simaan said.
Tesoro pulled within two goals, at 9-7, midway through the second half. Junior Alexa Catanzariti scored one of her team-high six goals on a free-position shot.
“Lex! Lex! Lex!” her teammates started chanting from the bench. CdM called timeout.
But the defense, led by senior co-captains Katherine Mulvaney and Katie McCabe, as well as senior Gabbi Garcia and sophomore Simone Oberreiter, tightened up. CdM junior goalie Ashley Olson made seven of her nine saves in the second half for the Sea Kings, who held the Titans scoreless for a stretch of more than 11 minutes before Catanzariti scored her final goal with 27 seconds left.
Two of Olson’s saves were back to back with less than eight minutes left in the game, preserving what was at the time a 10-7 lead. Olson stuffed Emma Roberson, Tesoro’s leading scorer coming into the game who was held scoreless. Then, she also stopped the rebound attempt from Katelin Martinez.
CdM was on its way to beating Tesoro in the postseason for the second straight year, after earning a quarterfinal win at CdM last year.
Kennedy Mulvaney finished with team-best totals of seven draw controls and four assists for the Sea Kings, as well as three ground balls. Coop led the way with four caused turnovers.
The roller-coaster season now comes down to a game against the best team. But Kennedy Mulvaney said the Sea Kings will be ready.
“Who cares about what you did in the past?” she said. “We beat Harbor every single year, yet we lost this year. Mater Dei has won all their games [against Orange County teams] … [but] anything can happen in a lacrosse game. We’re not going in like, OK, this is our last game. I’m ready to win.”