Through nearly three full matches of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs, the Costa Mesa High girls’ soccer team had yet to score a goal.
“I thought we were going to go all the way to the finals without scoring a goal,” Mustangs coach Jason Boyce said. “Jeez.”
The Mustangs have now scored just one goal in regulation in the postseason. But that goal was electric.
Junior Natalia Guzman put away senior Rayleen Chavez’s cross from the left in the first minute of stoppage time in the second half, as Costa Mesa earned a 1-0 victory over Riverside Hillcrest in a quarterfinal match Tuesday at home.
The Mustangs (19-2-4) advance to the semifinals for just the second time in program history, the other time being when they shared the Division 3 title in the 2002-03 season. Costa Mesa will play at Pasadena Westridge (11-6-4) in the semifinals Saturday. Westridge beat Katella 3-0 in another quarterfinal match Tuesday.
Orange Coast League champion Costa Mesa dominated the scoring chances against Hillcrest, the third-place team from the River Valley League. In the 28th minute, Sasha Olmedo’s shot from about 25 yards out was off the crossbar.
From the sidelines, Boyce urged his team to keep pushing and taking shots, feeling that the aggressive play would eventually pay off.
“I would have loved to have taken care of business earlier [in the match with a goal],” he said. “But I was happy that we were at least shooting and getting those attempts that were going off the bar, instead of not taking shots.”
Guzman had a golden chance earlier in the second half, too. But her shot in the box caromed off the left post before it was cleared out of danger in the 62nd minute.
“I have no words right now,” Guzman said. “We worked as a team and we played our hearts out. We kept fighting. We had it coming.”
Hillcrest’s best chance came in the 71st minute, when speedy sophomore Kaila Smith made a run up the left side. She crossed it to fellow sophomore Gabrielle Lecon, but Lecon was unable to get a clean shot off.
Other than that, Costa Mesa’s defense of junior Vanessa Carrillo, freshman Daisy Carrillo, junior Jamilette Chavez and sophomore Jazmin Lopez did well to limit Hillcrest’s chances. Sophomore goalkeeper Aubrey Hallman made three saves.
Though Costa Mesa has scored just one goal in its three playoff matches in regulation, it has allowed none.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” Boyce said. “From start to finish, I thought was one of the most complete games we’ve played in a while … Sometimes you can’t win without a little luck. We definitely don’t want luck to run out. We’d like to keep it going. If we can finish some opportunities, hopefully this will open up the flood gates for next time.”
The Mustangs felt that they earned the late goal which lifted them into the semifinals. Guzman was mobbed by her teammates on the field after scoring, then again after she came over to the bench. After she ran back on to the pitch, Rayleen Chavez did a bowing down motion in admiration.
“In my head the whole time, I was like, ‘Natalia better be there,’ ” Chavez said. “This whole week, that’s literally what we’ve been practicing. I was just glad she was there to put it away.