Ocean View girls' soccer Coach David Deaton called his team's 2010-11 campaign a "miracle season" only moments after Tuesday's CIF Southern Section Division 6 semifinal game against St. Margaret's.
The Seahawks were a team besieged before the start of the season by injuries, one of which cost them their starting goalie, and had a potential transfer player never pan out. 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 magical finish.
Ocean View took top-ranked 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 win after the teams ended regulation tied at 1.
Deaton said 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 deeper than any other Ocean View girls' soccer team had in the program's postseason history. Last year's group had set the standard by reaching the quarterfinal round. This year's group surpassed that mark when they beat Northview on penalty kicks in a quarterfinal match Feb. 24.
"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-ranked 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 in 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 they (St. Margaret's) hit their kicks. They're a good team and No. 1 for a reason."
St. Margaret's — which has a 23-match unbeaten streak—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 Tartan's 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 penalty-kicks phase, sent a shot that hugged the ground into the left corner. The Tartans converted all four of their attempts.
A big reason St. Margaret's was able to advance past the semifinal round for the first time in four years was because of the play of senior goalie Michelle Lancaster, who stopped one penalty kick. 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 they (Ocean View) 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 march to the semifinals Feb. 17 with an 11-0 first-round romp past San Gabriel Mission. The Seahawks then went to Northview on 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.
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. I keep saying that, but it's true."
A stunning 1-0 loss Friday to visiting St. John Bosco in the quarterfinal round of the Division 1 playoffs cut short a remarkable season for the Edison Chargers, who won their first 22 games, posted 19 shutouts, held down held down the top spot in the CIF Division 1 poll throughout the season and even spent time as the nation's No. 1-ranked boys' soccer team (ESPN).
Henry Rios scored in the second overtime to send the Trinity League champion Braves (15-10-3) onto the semifinals. St. John Bosco lost, 3-2, Tuesday at San Clemente.
In a 24-2 season, both of Edison's losses were by 1-0 scores. The first came against Los Alamitos in a regular-season finale Feb. 9.
"We came up a little short, but this doesn't diminish what the boys achieved this year," Edison Coach Charlie Breneman said. "We probably played the best high school soccer that I've ever seen.
"We had our opportunities to win this game, but we just couldn't finish. That's the game of soccer, though. Sometimes the best team doesn't win. The potential was there to go all the way, so we're a little disappointed not to get there."