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Costa Mesa girls' soccer beats rival Estancia for first time since 2011

The last words of Costa Mesa High girls’ soccer coach Jason Boyce to his team on Tuesday night were clear.

“Let’s continue to make some history,” Boyce said.

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Beating rival Estancia for the first time in nearly eight years was a good way to help keep things rolling.

Junior Lani Whittaker scored twice as Costa Mesa won 2-1 in the Orange Coast League match at home, taking the first Battle for the Bell match.

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It broke a 14-match losing streak to Estancia in which Costa Mesa had been outscored by a combined 38-0. The Mustangs had not beaten the Eagles since Jan. 25, 2011.

This year, Costa Mesa (9-1-4, 2-0-1 in league) expected that it could get the win. The Mustangs are ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division 5 poll. With Tuesday’s win, they are tied for second place in the league with Calvary Chapel, a half-match behind Santa Ana, which is 3-0 in league play.

Whittaker scored the winning goal in the 74th minute, taking Saharai Aguilar’s pass in the left side of the box. Estancia senior goalkeeper Kimberly Martinez came out to challenge, but Whittaker’s shot trickled into the right corner of the net.

“It was low and hard, and we’ve been practicing that for a while,” Whittaker said. “What went through my head is, ‘Low and hard, don’t get under it, get it to the back post as best as you can.’

“It’s just a big accomplishment for us [to beat Estancia]. We had to just focus … we had a lot of bonds on the team already, so it’s been really nice to put all of our separate little groups that have already played together and make them into one team. It’s really fun.”

Costa Mesa High's Lianna Hallman (19) goes up for a header against Estancia's Wendy Millan (10) during Tuesday's Orange Coast League match.
Costa Mesa High's Lianna Hallman (19) goes up for a header against Estancia's Wendy Millan (10) during Tuesday's Orange Coast League match. (Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Whittaker’s goal in the 15th minute, assisted by Sasha Olmedo, gave Costa Mesa the early advantage over Estancia (3-7, 1-2). The Mustangs had two penalty kicks in the second half to try to double their advantage, but Martinez made the save each time.

Desiree Mendoza, who had hit the right post and crossbar on shots earlier in the second half, eventually had the equalizer for Estancia in the 67th minute. That came after Costa Mesa goalkeeper Aubrey Hallman was forced to leave with what she said was a left hip injury following a collision with Mendoza in the box.

Boyce was forced to go with midfielder Brianna Tapia in the goal. Before he could substitute Hallman back in, Mendoza scored on the free kick from 25 yards out.

Hallman came back in two minutes later and made a couple of saves at the end, wincing every time she touched the ball.

“Everything hurt,” she said. “Getting up hurt, punting hurt. Laughing, coughing. Everything I did from that point on hurt.”

After Whittaker’s second goal, it was worth the pain to Hallman, a sophomore.

“I had to go back in because I wanted to win,” she said. “We don’t have another keeper, and me being in there helps … I’m really happy [that we beat Estancia]. It’s a big change. I think we’re going to have a big season because of it.”

Costa Mesa hosts Saddleback on Thursday, while Estancia is home to Orange. Both matches start at 5 p.m.

Boyce and Estancia coach Josh Juarez exchanged scouting reports after the match. The rivals’ second Battle of the Bay meeting is Jan. 30 at Estancia, and it’s also the league finale.

“This was a good back-and-forth game,” Juarez said. “We knew Mesa was going to be improved this year. Every year, we know they’re a hard-nosed team and they’re never going to back down. Our girls know that they’re going to play us for the entire 80 minutes, and they were able to find that goal late there.”

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