Delaney Brennan giggled as she winced, being helped off the field in an exaggerated way by Huntington Beach High girls’ soccer teammate Alex Lotter.
The referee also smiled at the two seniors, making a remark about Lotter’s strength midway through the second half of the Oilers’ Sunset Conference crossover match at Laguna Beach on Thursday night.
Brennan also showed strength after getting her right ankle taped by an athletic trainer.
“I have really bad ankles, so I’m used to it,” she said. “I just didn’t get it taped [before the match]. I probably should have done that.”
Brennan still came back into the match and continued making an impact.
Her goal in the 76th minute followed a scrum after Anna Carleton’s corner kick. The shot hit off the inside of the left goalpost and went in, helping the Oilers forge a 3-3 draw at Laguna Beach High.
“It was a little shaky,” Brennan said. “We could have played better probably. I felt like we weren’t at our best tonight … but we fought back. If we were more calm, we probably would have beat them, but it was probably just mental.
“They were good. Their forwards were really fast, I’ll give them that, but it was just a lot different style than we usually play.”
The Oilers (11-5-3) tried to play more possession soccer, while the Breakers (2-7-4) tried to get it to senior Blake Turner and her junior sister Reilyn, last year’s Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year, up top.
Both teams could claim success. Reilyn Turner scored two first-half goals, the first a header off of Ella Dartez’s corner kick. The second was assisted by freshman midfielder Acacia Edwards.
Blake Turner scored Laguna Beach’s third goal in the 48th minute, curving a cross-cage blast into the lower-left corner.
“They change the game,” Huntington Beach coach Raul Ruiz said. “They’re strong, skilled and powerful … [but] I thought we deserved at least a tie.”
Junior forward Summer Stewart scored twice for Huntington Beach. The second goal, in the 44th minute, was assisted by Carleton.
Ruiz said he has a special team. The Oilers, who outshot Laguna Beach 7-4, made the semifinals of the Aliso Cup and Excalibur Tournament of Champions, and the final of the Mater Dei tournament.
“Little by little, they’re understanding more what we want as a coaching staff,” Ruiz said. “They’re relentless. They don’t give up, and that’s the most important thing.”
Laguna Beach coach Ben Helm could say the same about his Breakers, who have been competitive in crossover matches against Corona del Mar (a 2-2 draw), Edison (a 2-1 loss) and now Huntington Beach. Helm said the Breakers had the lead in all three matches.
Laguna Beach was missing four starters, Helm said, including senior defender and co-captain Kerin Onodera (ankle).
“We’re playing against these big schools and they have so much more depth,” Helm said. “The reality is, we’re so thin … but we’ve done fantastically well against these teams. People are so keyed in on wins and losses, but you have to understand what’s going on inside the rope.”