SANTA MARIA — When the Corona del Mar High boys' soccer team got on the bus Friday morning to make a four-hour trip to Santa Maria, Coach George Larsen said it began to rain 10 miles into a 200-mile ride.
Larsen said it rained harder the closer the Sea Kings got to the site of their quarterfinal match in the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.
But a downpour was not going to cancel the afternoon match on the turf field. The Sea Kings did not drive up north for nothing.
The Sea Kings fought the rain, the high winds and the Saints and came away with a 1-0 victory to advance to the semifinals. Larsen said in a quarterfinal match that saw limited scoring chances because of harsh conditions, Mason Case came up big once again for CdM.
The junior midfielder recorded the match's lone goal, scoring on a volley in the 60th minute to keep CdM's postseason run alive. Brian Ford assisted on the goal.
"The four-hour drive back home is going to be much better," said Larsen, who credited goalkeeper Connor Gaal, Jack Gorab and Kjell Wolker for CdM recording its second shutout of the playoffs.
The Sea Kings (16-2-7) must travel again in the postseason. This time, their trip is to Paramount, a 30-mile drive from CdM.
The semifinal match on Tuesday at 3 p.m. is against the defending Division III champion Pirates. Paramount (16-2-6), the No. 4 seed, advanced to the semifinals after defeating Cabrillo of Lompoc.
"It's going to be like a heavyweight bout," Larsen said of the semifinal.
Both CdM and Paramount are trying to repeat as section champions, the Sea Kings won in Division IV last season. Also, CdM went on to win the CIF Southern California Regional Division II title and Paramount won the CIF Southern Section Regional Division I title last season.
The Sea Kings might be shorthanded going into the showdown against the San Gabriel Valley League champion Pirates.
Larsen said forward Connor Roche suffered a right knee injury in the second half against Santa Maria (14-5-3).
"He's going to get evaluated tomorrow," Larsen said of the 6-foot sophomore. "If we lose him, it's going to be a huge loss because he's been one of our starting forwards all season."
Larsen said Jake Maxwell would start at forward if Roche cannot play against Paramount.
— From staff reports