Jason Boyce is aware that the Costa Mesa High girls’ soccer team has had a rough recent history.
The Mustangs have been at or near the bottom of the Orange Coast League. They finished 2-11-5 overall last season.
After Jon Crowley resigned as head coach, Boyce went from the Mustangs boys’ head coach, a position he held for one season, to the girls’ job. The new blood seems to be fueling the young Mustangs.
Sophomore Erin Rodriguez scored in the 50th minute as Costa Mesa battled back for a 1-1 draw at Sage Hill in a nonleague match Friday night.
“We’re trying to change the culture,” Boyce said, adding that girls’ assistant Gus Gomez is the new Costa Mesa boys’ soccer head coach. “We have a losing culture in our history, and we’re just trying to change it through the whole program, really … We’re not doing half bad. We have to earn our respect.”
Ten matches into the season, Costa Mesa (7-1-2) already has as many wins as it has had since winning nine matches in 2008-09. Earlier this month, the Mustangs also won the Katella tournament, and senior midfielder Rayleen Chavez said the tournament championship was a first in her four years on varsity.
“I just think it’s the connection,” said Chavez, who leads Costa Mesa with eight goals. “Everybody just has a better attitude than previous years. Overall, everybody just bonds well.”
Sage Hill (3-1-2) did take the advantage in the 33rd minute. Senior midfielder Olivia Lowe dribbled through several defenders before unleashing a shot that bounced just before Costa Mesa goalkeeper Lucero Islas, and then into the lower-right corner of the net.
“I was actually really surprised it went in,” Lowe said. “I dribbled in a bit and I hit it with my left [foot]. I’m right-dominant, but it bounced right before the goalie’s hands and it went in.”
Sage Hill has a trio of talented midfielders in Lowe, sophomore Lexi Van Den Bosch and freshman Lauren Graham. They provided the Lightning with scoring chances, but Costa Mesa responded with Rodriguez’s goal, assisted by sophomore midfielder Sasha Olmedo.
Boyce said that Islas has been impressive in goal, with sophomore goalkeeper Aubrey Hallman out with a concussion. Freshman Daisy Carrillo has also shined on the back line for Costa Mesa.
Nicole Motherway made four saves in the first half for the Lightning, and freshman keeper Lainey Cauffman made three saves. Sage Hill also has a freshman on defense, with Ann Wood at center back. Coach Mike Hammond said Wood is filling in, as senior defender Karli Davis is out with an eardrum injury suffered in the season opener.
Hammond said that he expects Davis back for the team’s next match. It’s not for a while, as Sage Hill plays a San Joaquin League road match against Pacifica Christian Orange County on Jan. 9.
“We just didn’t have the players to play a Christmas tournament this year,” Hammond said. “It’s just one of those schools where people do a lot of traveling [over the holidays].”
Hammond said he felt that his team could have earned a win against Costa Mesa, which plays a nonleague match at Katella on Tuesday.