At last, the Laguna Beach High girls' soccer program can call itself No. 1.
The Breakers went out Wednesday and did something no previous Laguna squad had done in 31 seasons: win a league championship. They reached new heights after handing visiting Saddleback a 3-1 defeat in the Orange Coast League finale for both teams.
The Breakers took a giant step toward that goal only after winning a crucial game Monday against Godinez.
Before Wednesday's ground-breaking triumph, Laguna Coach Bill Rolfing said he had learned that Godinez had knocked off Calvary Chapel earlier in the day, a result that gave the Breakers the league title even before the first kick against Saddleback.
Laguna and Saddleback played to a 1-1 tie by the half, the Breakers getting their score on a 25-yard kick by senior midfielder Marina Paul. The Breakers scored the go-ahead at the 60-minute mark. Paul sent a kick that deflected off the Saddleback goalie and on to the foot of Breakers teammate Tatum Moore, and the sophomore forward plugged the ball into the net.
April Carlson later went on what Rolfing called one of her "signature solo runs" after a through ball. The senior forward came up with a steal from both the Saddleback sweeper and keeper and scored to make it 3-1.
Laguna began the week tied for first place with Godinez. The two met in a Monday showdown that would determine the league leader, and it was the Breakers who took on that role after earning a 1-0 victory. The game's lone score came when Carlson placed a corner kick that Paul was able to get under and head into the goal. The defensive play of goalie Kylie George and defender Amy Hewlett, both freshmen, helped the Breakers fend off second-half challenges by the Grizzlies.
"It feels great to finally win a championship," said Rolfing, who is in his eighth year as head coach.
He will be leading the Breakers into postseason play for the third time in the last four years. The Breakers made the playoffs in the 2009 and 2010 seasons as a third-place team.
"I think we accomplished this goal with a great combination of young talent that came last year, and in particular this year," Rolfing said.
Paul, who signed last week with Georgetown University, and Carlson are two of four senior captains on this year's title-winning team. The other Breakers holding the honor are midfielder Caroline Cannan and defender Torrie Ornelas.
Laguna finished league play 6-0-4 and with the two wins to close out the regular season this week, increased its unbeaten streak to 14 games. The Breakers (10-6-6) have given up just five goals during the streak and only three in league play.
Although the Breakers scored a key win Monday over Godinez, Rolfing called the important victory "bittersweet."
Before the start of its 14-game streak, the Laguna lost a key component to its lineup when sophomore forward Johana Abarca suffered a season-ending injury (torn ACL) during a nonleague game in late-December. Abarca has since been on the Laguna sideline to cheer on her teammates, but missed the Godinez and Saddleback games.
"Ironically, she went in for her ACL surgery on Monday," Rolfing said. "While we were playing Godinez, she was having her surgery. We were sending her texts on Wednesday to let her know how we were doing and that we had won a championship."