Blink and you might miss the Surf League in girls’ soccer.
With four teams, things go quickly. After three matches, Corona del Mar, Edison, Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach already find themselves halfway through league.
Los Alamitos, the defending Sunset League champion which is ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section Division 1, is sitting on top. But the Griffins have not looked invincible. CdM played them tough in a 2-1 defeat on Tuesday, before Edison earned a 3-3 draw with the Griffins on the road Thursday.
Corona del Mar is 11-2-4 overall, and 1-1-1 in league. Arizona-bound junior forward Megan Chelf leads the Sea Kings with 20 goals, but they have also picked up a boost from Cal-bound forward Natalie Hueston, who decided to play high school soccer her senior year.
Edison sports a 12-5-3 record overall and 0-1-2 in league. The Chargers have a trio of seniors who have been creating most of their scoring chances, in Rachelle Elve, Cecilia Roghair and Chloe Helenihi. Coach Kerry Crooks said her team had to deal with losing both of its starting defensive midfielders, Malia Walencewicz (meniscus) and Nikki Marino (anterior cruciate ligament), to injury early in the season.
Crooks, the longtime coach of her alma mater, also is dealing with the new league setup.
“I don’t know how crazy I am about this new league pairing,” she said. “There’s something to playing Newport Harbor more than once [in a conference crossover match], and Fountain Valley more than once. Those are old rivalries that we had before. I’m trying to get used to it.”
Huntington Beach (11-6-6, 0-1-2) had an impressive preseason but, like Edison, is still looking for its first league victory. Coach Raul Ruiz said his team is solid in the back with players like Kekoa Nelson and Alex Lotter and Alyssa Hornback, though he added that senior goalkeeper Jackie Ruggiero fractured her leg in the match at Los Alamitos on Jan. 10.
Freshman Riley Urquiza is now between the pipes for the Oilers, who play Los Alamitos again at home on Tuesday to kick off the second half of league.
Newport Harbor (15-2-5, 3-0 in league) has established itself as the favorite in the four-team Wave League, the lower division of the Sunset Conference which also includes Laguna Beach, Marina and Fountain Valley. Coach Justin Schroeder said his team is after the first league title in program history. Newport Harbor, ranked No. 7 in Division 1, has many skilled players and is particularly strong in the midfield with players like UC Santa Barbara-bound senior Emily Johnson and Sofia Velazquez, the two co-captains, as well as sophomore Reese Bodas.
“It looks like all of the teams that are in Division 1 in the Sunset Conference [Los Alamitos, Newport Harbor, Edison, Corona del Mar and Huntington Beach] could make the Division 1 playoffs,” Schroeder said. “We could all see each other again.
“We’re excited we get to compete for a league championship and hopefully get back into CIF. We’re happy to play any of those Surf teams again. I’m sure they’d be happy to see us, too. If somehow us and Corona del Mar get matched up in CIF, that would be wild.”
Laguna Beach (4-9-3, 2-1 in league) boasts a national team player in junior Reilyn Turner, a UCLA commit who was last year’s Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year. Turner’s older sister Blake, a senior, also returned this season for the Breakers.
Marina (6-9-6, 0-2-1 in league) has struggled a bit coming off a breakthrough campaign. Fountain Valley (6-9-3, 0-2-1 in league) is led by senior midfielder Chantelle Sanchez, bound for UC Irvine.
“We’ve just been poor on defending the set pieces,” Barons coach Scott Goldman said. “We haven’t given up too many goals during the run of play.”
Costa Mesa is enjoying a big season, as coach Jason Boyce’s Mustangs (12-1-4) are ranked No. 1 in Division 5. Seniors Rayleen Chavez and Lisa Martinez each scored for Costa Mesa Thursday in a 2-0 win over Calvary Chapel that improved the Mustangs to 5-0-1 in the Orange Coast League.
Los Amigos (10-2-1) is another strong team in Division 5, where the Lobos are ranked No. 4. Los Amigos, which advanced to the CIF semifinals for the first time in program history last season, is 5-0 in the Garden Grove League and boasts a strong returner in senior Vidalia Abarca, who led the area with 54 goals last season.
Pacifica Christian Orange County (12-2) is the other local team ranked in CIF, as the Tritons are No. 4 in Division 6. Seniors Sadie Hill (bound for Westmont College) and Alyssa Smith lead Pacifica Christian, which has lost twice to San Joaquin League leader St. Margaret’s but could still finish in second place.
The Tritons have a key league match at Sage Hill (5-3-2) on Thursday at 5 p.m.
“This is our most competitive year so far,” Pacifica Christian coach Brandon Gonzalez said. “We have a great senior class and they’re clicking at the right time.”