CdM dominates Eagles

COSTA MESA — After a lopsided nonleague road victory Tuesday, Corona del Mar High girls' soccer coach Bryan Middleton said the playing surface at Estancia High is one about which he can only dream.

Meanwhile, Eagles Coach Jessica Gatica was concerned about the dream-like state her players displayed in the 4-0 setback.

"I wish we had a turf field, because it plays to our advantage," Middleton said following a strong performance by the Sea Kings (6-2-3), ranked No. 7 in CIF Southern Section Division I.

"We came out asleep and we stayed asleep," noted Gatica, whose team fell to 5-3-2 and had a three-game winning streak snapped. "Our touches were terrible, our decision-making was bad. We made the simple stuff really hard."

CdM made things look simple, scoring twice in each half and posting a 17-6 advantage in shots to record its sixth shutout in its final tune-up before opening Pacific Coast League play Thursday against Northwood.

"We played well," said Middleton, who praised his team's ability to maintain possession most of the contest. "With no mud and no grass, we were able to play great possession, And I think the [FieldTurf] field made a huge difference today in our finishing."

Junior Ally Brahs had two goals while sophomores Maddie O'Connor and Annie Alvarado each contributed a goal and an assist to pace the Sea Kings.

O'Connor, who had been out all season with a hamstring injury, opened the scoring in the seventh minute, booming in an unassisted tally from just outside the 18-yard box.

Alvarado, whom Middleton said completely controlled the midfield, converted a cross from sophomore Rachel Kerce in the 42nd minute and the visitors led, 2-0, at halftime.

Brahs added to the lead in the 57th minute, cashing in a cross by O'Connor. She then finalized the scoring by tapping in an Alvarado cross in the 80th minute.

Wake Forest-bound goalie Lindsey Luke made all four of the Sea Kings' saves, though freshman Kendall Mulvaney played the final 10 minutes in goal for the winners.

"Ally Brahs finished rather well," said Middleton, who added that Luke was solid in goal, despite not really being tested.

"And we're looking forward to having O'Connor back for league," added Middleton, who said before the game that senior defender Kaylee O'Connor, Maddie's sister, as well as sophomore forward Emily Krebs would be sidelined at least a month after stress fractures were detected since the team's last game in late December.

"Basically, my goals today were [due to] amazing crosses from two other players," Brahs said. "I didn't have to work that hard."

Junior Ferny Perez, who shifted from the field to fill a void in goal for the Eagles about five games ago, was clearly the top performer for Estancia. She made six saves, including a pair of diving stops, a point-blank denial and one in which she leaped to tip a high drive over the crossbar.

"We tried some new girls in goal the first few games and that didn't work," Gatica said. "Once we put Ferny back there, everything kind of clicked. She has been a huge addition to our defense and she is making strides every day as a goalkeeper.

Senior defender Ashly Romero also stood out for the Eagles, keeping attackers in front of her and negating a handful of scoring opportunities.

Estancia gets one more chance to prepare for its Orange Coast League opener (Tuesday against Laguna Beach). The Eagles play host to Bolsa Grande on Thursday.

"I'm glad we put CdM on the schedule, because it gave us a tough game at this point, which is a reality check for our girls," Gatica said. "Our girls might have been feeling pretty good about some wins we had over the holiday break, so this [loss] should wake them up a little bit and show them we still have work to do."

Brahs said the Sea Kings are ready to challenge for a PCL title.

"I feel like our two toughest [league] opponents will be Northwood and Beckman," Brahs said, "and we have one of them right off the bat. We're going to come out strong [Thursday against Northwood] after this win [Tuesday]."

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