Megan Chelf is tough enough to stop without the opposing defense making a mistake.
The Corona del Mar High junior forward spent the first couple of minutes of Thursday’s Surf League girls’ soccer opener at Edison running around, looking for a steal.
“They were trying to swing it in the back, and I was kind of pressuring them,” Chelf said. “I wasn’t really getting tired. That’s why I kept doing it. They just had a miscommunication … and I got there faster.”
Chelf had no reason to be tired already in the third minute. Early on, she made the Chargers pay, stealing the ball before splitting defenders Kelli McKay and Serena Starks and sprinting toward the goal.
Chelf’s strike, her program-record 20th of the season, held up. CdM beat Edison 1-0 and improved to 11-1-3 overall.
Coach Bryan Middleton explained to his Sea Kings how valuable it was to win the opener in the new league, which also includes Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach. CdM’s former league, the Pacific Coast League, awarded two points for a win, but winners in the Surf League get three points.
Middleton knows that each match will be a battle.
“It’s one of the best [leagues] in the county, one of the best in CIF, one of the best in the state,” he said. “All of the matches are going to be super-tight and have a playoff feel, which makes it exciting. It’s exciting high school soccer, so it’s good for everyone.”
CdM, ranked No. 22 in the state by TopDrawerSoccer.com, hosts No. 3 Los Alamitos (19-0-3) on Tuesday at 3 p.m., and outright first place will be on the line. The Griffins, who won the Sunset League last season and are ranked No. 2 in CIF Southern Section Division 1, beat Huntington Beach 1-0 in another league opener Thursday night.
Chelf, an Arizona commit, also nearly scored in the 54th minute, after taking a quick header from senior forward Natalie Hueston. Chelf’s shot went off the crossbar, before Edison goalkeeper Kayla Martin stopped a point-blank rebound attempt from CdM freshman Erin Jones. Martin made six saves.
It was Hueston, headed for Cal, who generated chances throughout the match for the Sea Kings, also taking a handful of corner kicks.
Edison (12-5-1) pushed for an equalizer in the final minutes. But CdM goalkeeper Giovanna Broderick (six saves) came out in the 73rd minute to stuff a chance by Chargers senior midfielder Rachelle Elve near the top of the box. In the following minute, Edison senior Cecilia Roghair had an open chance in the right side of the box, but her cross-cage attempt went wide left.
CdM dodged the bullets and earned the big road victory.
“[Chelf] has been on fire all season, and you can’t make those kinds of mistakes,” Edison coach Kerry Crooks said of conceding the early goal. “We did. We shot ourselves in the foot, basically.”
The CdM defense, which also included senior Katharine Caston, junior Mia Ferrentino and sophomores Avery Doherty and Maddy Rosen, was able to preserve the shutout, its first in five Sunset Conference matches so far.
“I thought we worked really well as a unit, sticking together, especially Avery,” Caston said. “She was always right behind me, so I knew she’d be there if something happened. She’s super-strong, which is good to know.”
Edison plays at Huntington Beach on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Both teams will be trying to avoid falling into a big early hole in the highly competitive league, which has just two guaranteed postseason berths.