COSTA MESA — The first time Kaela Whelan had to make a save, it was already late in the first half Tuesday evening at Costa Mesa High.
At least the save was memorable, as the goalie for the Mariners third- and fourth-grade girls' silver division team hung onto the ball after a big collision with Killybrooke's Sierra Dixon.
"She went on top of your head!" a teammate said in disbelief after Mariners earned a 5-0 win in its opening game at the Daily Pilot Cup.
"I know," Whelan responded. "It didn't feel that great."
The win felt better for Mariners, which got its offense going early by scoring five goals in the first half.
Holly Nance found the back of the net twice for Mariners, with scores from Ava Wagoner, Reagan Schwary and Kili Skibby adding to the total. It came despite a great effort by Killybrooke goalie Charlotte Anderson, who ended up with 17 saves.
Nance scored the first goal nine minutes into the game, but she was complimentary to Anderson.
"It was exciting," Nance said. "I didn't think it would go in because the goalie kept making all these good saves."
Skibby, Wagoner and Ella Kenney are three third-graders on Mariners. They are quite familiar with each other, as the trio was also on the AYSO Region 97 team that won the 10-and-under girls' Area Q title in January.
Kenney's dad, Preston, is coaching the Mariners team.
"It's a good mix of girls, because we have third-graders who can play," he said. "And some of these girls have played together on different teams, so there's some chemistry there already."
Mariners had to stop the scoring. Under tournament rules, a winning margin of more than five goals constitutes a point penalty. Still, Mariners looked strong in the second half.
"I think the passing was good, and the through balls," Skibby said. "Our shooting was pretty good."
Killybrooke never gave up. The Lucky Charms, coached by Cyndi Dimel, had many more nice runs up the field by Dixon in the second half. At one point, Dixon's corner kick found the foot of teammate Sophie Beazley, but the Mariners defense held.
The Lucky Charms, who play again at 4:45 p.m. Friday at Costa Mesa High, also got contributions from Christina Laty, Sarah Tanay, Jourdan Serafin, Camila Amado, Penelope Amado, Ana To, Anna Solis, Courtney Moore, Emily Brown, Grace Cruz and Natalie Cuevas.
Mariners, which has its next pool-play game at 6:45 p.m. Thursday at Costa Mesa High, was also boosted by Kate LaGrandeur, Carly Robinson, Chloe Rettig, Claire Wadman, Nicole Bocancea and Simona Bocancea.