Estancia alone at the top

COSTA MESA — The class of 2011 did plenty of work Monday on senior day for the Estancia High girls' soccer team.

Seniors Erin O'Neil, Jessica Lyons and Ashly Romero played lockdown defense. Seniors Jackie Freiberger, Stephanie Plascencia, Jessica Lyons and Alissa Scheafer handled the rest, dominating possession.

Freiberger scored twice and Plascencia added a goal as Estancia blanked Calvary Chapel, 4-0, in a battle for first place at Jim Scott Stadium.

Estancia (13-4-2, 7-1-1 in league) clinched at least a share of the Orange Coast League title and can win it outright by producing a win or tie Wednesday against cross-town rival Costa Mesa.

Defending champion Calvary Chapel (11-5-6, 6-2-1) falls to second place with a game to go.

Estancia clearly wants to finish strong and deliver what Coach Jessica Gatica said would be the school's first outright league title since the year most of the seniors were born — 1993. Estancia shared the league title with Costa Mesa two years ago, in Gatica's first year at the helm.

"I'm just so happy," Gatica said after her team's dominant effort Monday. "The last couple of games we've been possessing well but not attacking well. This time, our possession led to lots of offensive opportunities, which is exactly what we've been working on and exactly what we need to put teams away. Capitalizing on our opportunities has been our weakness, and today we seemed to turn the corner on that.

"They work hard, and it's starting to pay off. It's a good senior day."

Calvary Chapel Coach David Moo said his team was shorthanded early in the game, with two players out due to injury. But he declined to name them or to make excuses, congratulating Gatica with a handshake at midfield after watching Estancia dominate possession.

"Most games, we're laughing and joking around during warm-ups," said Lyons, one of three senior captains along with Freiberger and O'Neil. "This game, no talking and very serious. We wanted to win this one."

Plascencia struck first, in the 10th minute off a corner kick from sophomore Isela Garcia. Plascencia's initial shot from the left side of the box was blocked but she stayed with it, knocking the follow-up into the upper part of the net.

Estancia took a 2-0 lead in the 26th minute, when Freiberger connected from about 25 yards out, off a cross from Lyons. The hard-struck ball slipped out of the fingers of the Calvary Chapel goalie and into the net.

Defensively, Estancia also shined, with additional help from Shantel Romero and Emily Leahy. Goalie Ferny Perez didn't even have to touch the ball until 19 minutes into the game. She finished with three saves.

"At first they were playing with three forwards, which was kind of hard," O'Neil said. "Calvary has a few fast forwards, so we had to clear it out right away. No let-downs was my main goal."

Halftime went nearly 20 minutes long, as the teams had to wait for the lights to turn on. Soon after, Estancia blew out the lights on any hope of a Calvary Chapel comeback.

The Cal State Dominguez Hills-bound Freiberger scored her second goal of the game — and team-high 13th of the season — in the 56th minute, after a long ball sent into the box by Romero. Near the sideline, the father and sister of Estancia's Heather and Hayley Flores watched the action.

Kyla Flores, who played at Costa Mesa High and Cal State Monterey Bay, yelled at her younger sister Hayley to score a goal. She offered frozen yogurt as a reward.

"With extra toppings!" Kyla Flores yelled to Hayley, a freshman. Hayley Flores just smiled at her older sister until she finally found the back of the net, beating the Calvary goalie at the near post in the 68th minute.

The teams played nine-on-nine near the end of the game. Gatica said after Moos pulled two of his players, she felt compelled to do the same.

Estancia knows now it needs an inspired effort against the Mustangs on Wednesday. Costa Mesa upset Estancia, 1-0, in the Eagles' lone league loss on Jan. 25.

"We were walking on clouds and just underestimated them," Gatica said. "Now we're back to reality and ready to have a big go at it."

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