SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — It's hard to beat a team when you can't find the back of the net.
The defense for the St. Margaret's girls' soccer team has been downright stingy this year, allowing no goals in nine league matches.
They were fine offensively too on Tuesday night, as four different players scored in a 4-0 rout of rival Sage Hill at St. Margaret's.
St. Margaret's (19-2-1, 9-0 in league) clinched its third straight outright league title on senior night. The Tartans haven't lost a league game in three years, since Sage Hill won the league in 2008.
Lightning Coach Chino Cid saw his team stay in third place in league with a game to go, also behind Crean Lutheran South, although Sage Hill has already clinched a CIF Southern Section Division VI playoff spot. The Lightning (10-8-2, 5-3-1) were unable to replicate their effort from the teams' first league meeting, when Sage played St. Margaret's even for 77 minutes on Jan. 14 before Tartans junior Katie Donahue scored on a late header.
"We didn't play like we played the first game," Cid said. "They played much better than they played in the first game. It's the first time all season we've given up more than two goals."
Donahue scored Tuesday too, along with fellow Newport Beach resident Alexa Barbaresi. St. Margaret's also boasts senior goalie Michelle Lancaster, a CdM resident, and Tartans senior defender Tory Davidson, freshman forward Caroline Smith and junior defender Natalie Barbaresi — all hail from Newport Beach.
Lancaster and Davidson were two of the five seniors honored on senior night. Lancaster didn't have to handle the ball much near the net.
Regan Anderson also scored for St. Margaret's, which dominated possession, and junior Alena Riggs finished off the scoring in the 66th minute for the top-ranked team in Division VI.
"It was a wake-up call for us last time," St. Margaret's Coach Johnny Marmelstein said. "Sage always gets up for us. The game that we had at their place, it was legitimately a 1-0 game. It could have been a tie game, and they could have gone up on us early.
"We knew they were going to come out with a lot of intensity, but I think we matched their intensity tonight."
Sage goalies Alexa Thomas and Paige Krueger combined for eight saves, and defenders Caroline Grant, Campbell Moor and Sanna Taskinen shut down the Tartans early. But after Alexa Barberesi scored her team-leading 14th goal off a corner kick in the 22nd minute, St. Margaret's kept the pressure on. The Tartans connected again 13 minutes later, when Donahue scored from the upper-left part of the box.
Cid's side missed junior defender Sofia Herzlinger, who tore knee ligaments in the Lightning's last league game against Oxford Academy. But however this year ends up, Sage Hill is young.
Midfielder Victoria Weber is the Lightning's only senior, and Cid said she's new to the team.
"It's not an excuse, but we're excited about that for next year too," Cid said.