HUNTINGTON BEACH — Ocean View High girls' soccer coach David Deaton called his team's 2010-11 campaign a "miracle season," moments after Tuesday's CIF Southern Section Division VI semifinal game against St. Margaret's.
The Seahawks were a team besieged by injuries before the start of the season. One injury cost them their starting goalie. They also had a potential transfer player never materialize, yet they still had enough senior leadership to enter the season with high expectations.
In four months, they exceeded those lofty goals and were just a few kicks away from a truly miraculous finish.
Ocean View took top-seeded St. Margaret's to the limit Tuesday, fighting the favored Tartans on even terms through both regulation and two 10-minute overtime sessions. Only by holding a 4-1 advantage on penalty kicks, was St. Margaret's able to escape with a 5-2 win to run its unbeaten streak to 23 games.
Tuesday's performance by the Seahawks was a far cry from their previous meeting with the Tartans less than a month ago. On Feb. 5, Ocean View went to St. Margaret's and returned to Huntington Beach with a 4-0 loss.
"When they beat us in our last game, they caught us in our 'sleepy mode,'" said Ocean View senior midfielder Mikhaila Bowden, who will play next year at Boise State. "We weren't going to let that happen this time. We played them tough and we were excited to get the chance to face them again.
"Coach told us that we'd face them again, if we got this far. Once we won our last game and they won theirs, all we did this week was practice, rest, ice up and think about what we wanted to go in this game. We gave it our all."
By giving it their "all," the Seahawks went further than any other Ocean View girls' soccer team had in the program's postseason history. Last year's group set the new standard by reaching the quarterfinal round. This year's group surpassed that mark when they beat Northview on penalty kicks in a quarterfinal match last Thursday.
"It was a miracle season. That's how I'd describe it," Deaton said. "The girls did a great job all year and to be able to take the [No. 1-seeded] team to penalty kicks, a team that easily beat us a month ago, says a lot about the heart and toughness of my girls.
"Athletic-wise, we were outmanned. But we weren't outmanned when it came to heart."
Ocean View fell behind, 1-0, in the game's first five minutes but the Seahawks drew even by the half when Raquel Thomas pushed in the tying score. The senior forward tapped in a loose ball that had bounced around the front of the St. Margaret's goal.
Were the Seahawks a team of destiny?
"I told the girls at halftime that if we took the game to penalty kicks, then I thought we had a good shot at winning this," Deaton said. "We did that but [the Tartans] hit their kicks. They're a good team and No. 1 for a reason."
St. Margaret's connected on its first two penalty kicks. First, McCaully Patch slipped a shot past Ocean View goalie Mallory Koci and into the right corner of the net. On the Tartans' next kick, Katie Donahue, who had injured her left ankle late in the second half and was still favoring that ankle through overtime and into the PKs phase, sent a shot that hugged the ground into the left-side corner. The Tartans converted all four of their attempts.
Senior goalie Michelle Lancaster, who stopped one penalty kick, proved to be a big reason St. Margaret's advanced past the semifinals for the first time in four years.
Still, Niki Geiger converted her penalty kick for Ocean View.
Lancaster played goalie for the first time this year. She was a center/midfielder at the start of the season.
"I think that [the Seahawks] came out really strong and didn't want to lose," she said. "They played tough. We've been in the semifinals three years in a row and this is the first time to get past it. It feels great."
Ocean View, the No. 2 team from the Golden West League, began its road to the semifinals Feb. 17 with an 11-0 first-round romp past San Gabriel Mission. The Seahawks then went to Northview Feb. 22 and knocked off the Valle Vista League champion Vikings, 1-0. On Feb. 24, they traveled to San Marino for the quarterfinals and beat the Titans on penalty kicks (4-3) to reach the division's final four.
Deaton said the Seahawks finished the year 15-9-4.
"We weren't expected to get this far," he said. "We had injuries, a few letdowns early, but this team really pulled together. I couldn't be more proud of this team. Miracles do happen."
St. Margaret's recorded easy wins against Santa Ana (8-0), an at-large entry from the Golden West League, Condor League champ Cate (6-1) and Rio Hondo League runner-up South Pasadena (3-1), to get to the semis. The Tartans (24-2-1) will play San Dimas, a 3-1 winner over No. 2 Hemet in Tuesday's other semifinal game, in the division final either Friday or Saturday.