A week before the beginning of the Sunset League boys' soccer season, Fountain Valley and Marina gave a preview of things to come in the upcoming league race.
The Barons and Vikings clashed at Marina High in the championship of the Marina Holiday Classic on Dec. 29. The difference in the first of three regular-season meetings between the league rivals was established early, when senior midfielder Steven Mendoza punched in the game's only goal in a 1-0 victory for the Vikings.
It marked the first time that Marina had won its own tournament in the 12 years that Jeff Schofield has coached the Vikings.
"I thought it was an exciting game, very evenly match game," Schofield said. "(Fountain Valley Coach) Jason (Smith) and I talked before the game and we both said that this could be a preview of what to expect in league play. The teams in our league are evenly matched and have similar records. It should be a dog fight.
Smith said Marina's intensity at the outset of the game set the tone early.
"They came out and played stronger than we did," he said. "They were able to get that one (goal) off a free kick and made it stand. Goals aren't going to come easily in this league, and today proved just that."
Both teams had shots on goal that missed the mark in each half. Marina senior goalie David Elias, last year the Defensive Player of the Year in the Sunset League, registered two saves. The Vikings, who improved to 9-1-4 with the win, posted their 10th shutout of the season. The Vikings gave up just one goal in the tournament.
"David's been a leader for us out there and he sets the tone for our team," Schofield said. "Our defense really has been our strength this year and it came up big again today.
Mendoza scored off a free kick from senior Josue Medina 13 minutes into the game. It was his only goal of the tournament and second of the season.
"I saw the ball cross from the opposite side and just went after it," Mendoza said. "It felt great when I hit it and it felt really great to see it go in."
Twenty-one teams vied for the tournament title, including two other Sunset League teams, Huntington Beach and Newport Harbor. Dominguez took third place and Newport Harbor finished fourth.
On Friday, Marina hosts Los Alamitos at 3 p.m. and Fountain Valley travels for a 4:45 p.m. game at Huntington Beach. The other Sunset game Friday has Edison hosting Newport Harbor at 4:45 p.m.
"There's a lot of parity in this league from top to bottom," Smith said. "Edison, obviously, is the team to beat. They're the two-time defending champions. But the key to winning this league is to come out and play with confidence, get on a quick win streak and then ride it through. It should be a really great race."
Fountain Valley closed out play Dec. 29 at the North OC Classic in Downey. The Barons were first defeated, 6-5, by Pacifica of Oxnard, which rallied in the second half to tie the score and then won on penalty kicks. Whitney Hinnant scored in the first half for the Barons.
In its second game of the day, Fountain Valley pinned a 5-0 shutout on Costa Mesa. Goals by Dakota Griggs and Madison Gomez, who scored on a header on a corner kick from Griggs, gave the Barons a 2-0 halftime lead. Danielle Simek scored once and Kaitlyn Clarke had two goals in the second half. Griggs had two assists and Gomez and Shelly Zito both had one assist.
Girls' Water Polo
Edison finished seventh Saturday at the Newport Harbor Holiday Cup. The Chargers took seventh by defeating Santa Margarita, 14-7. Alys Williams posted five goals and came up with nine steals. Abby Oshiro scored four goals and goalie Sydni Estrella had eight saves.
The Chargers started tournament play Friday and scored eight goals in the first quarter en route to a 16-7 win. Williams had six goals and six steals.
Edison took on second-seed Corona del Mar in the quarterfinals. Following a scoreless first quarter, the Sea Kings scored five goals in the second quarter and went on to take a 9-2 win. Williams scored both goals for the Chargers. In their third game, Williams scored three goals and Oshiro and Risa Burke both scored twice, in a 13-7 loss to Laguna Beach.
"It was a good weekend for our girls," Edison Coach Diggy Riley said. "We spent the last eight days really working hard mentally on half court and counter defense. What we saw on our game film was a lack of awareness by the girls. It was more mental than physical. I thought with the exception of two quarters in the tournament, we played fantastic defense."
Edison meets Irvine in a 1 p.m. nonleague game Saturday at the William Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine.