Bill Rolfing figured the first-round match awaiting his Laguna Beach girls' soccer team would be a tough one.
The Breakers, coming off their first Orange Coast League championship, played host to a Santa Monica team that was no stranger to winning trophies. All the Vikings have done in the past 10 years is dominate the Ocean League by winning nine titles. This year, the title eluded the Vikings, but they still were a formidable group that previously knocked off one and tied three other teams that reside in the Division 4 top-10 poll.
Santa Monica chalked up another big win, but had to come up big in the second half to do so, scoring a 2-0 CIF Southern Section Division 4 victory Feb. 17 over Laguna at Guyer Field.
The fast-paced match saw Laguna play one of its "best 40 minutes of the season," Rolfing said. The Breakers were able to attack the Santa Monica goal behind the passing of Marina Paul, Audrey Pillsbury and Janie Crawford. Their tough defense, supplied by sisters Sarah and Amy Hewlett, Hannah Magstadt, Tessa Hopper and goalie Yasmin Asghari, stopped the Vikings' counter attacks.
Santa Monica (13-5-3) turned to its size and speed in the second half to keep the Breakers on the defensive, but it was the conversion of a penalty kick with 12 minutes remaining in regulation that led to the Vikings' first goal. Rolfing said the score marked the first time that Laguna had trailed since Dec. 22.
The Vikings scored an insurance goal late to wrap up the win.
Seniors Caroline Cannan, April Carlson, Marcella Bechtel and Torrie Ornelas worked hard on the outside midfield for the Breakers (10-7-6) and Kailani Bonin, Melissa Chapman and Tatum Moore pressed up top. Brielle Brudroe, Allie Hastings, Emma Barker and Johana Abarca completed the support for the team, Rolfing said.
Laguna made a strong showing in postseason play by winning a CIF Southern Section Division 4 wild-card game before nearly knocking off Crescenta Valley in the first round.
Two days after knocking out El Segundo on the road in wild-card action, the Breakers, an at-large, went on the road again Feb. 16 and took third-ranked Crescenta Valley to overtime before succumbing to the Pacific Coast League champions, 3-2.
Reece Barton scored both goals for Laguna, which took a 2-0 halftime lead and fought hard against a Crescenta Valley team that hadn't lost this season. The Falcons improved to 17-0-6.
"I was immensely proud of how the boys applied themselves in this game," Laguna Coach Daniel Richards said. "I have very mixed feelings about the result. We were always huge underdogs for the match and were not given much of a chance by the majority of people, but that's generally how we like it on this squad.
"After working so hard during the game and taking them into overtime, losing on a 'golden goal' is a very tough way to get knocked out of the playoffs. However, it doesn't take anything away from the work and effort the boys put in. The team did a great job throughout the season, especially in the last five or six games when they found that extra bit of desire to grind out results and never give up in games."
Laguna finished the year 9-7-3.