QF brutal to CdM again

COSTA MESA — After Friday's match, Corona del Mar High girls' soccer coach Bryan Middleton talked to his team about the Sea Kings' four goals this season.

They accomplished the first three goals. They beat Newport Harbor in the Battle of the Bay, won a tournament for the first time in program history and won their second straight outright Pacific Coast League title.

The fourth goal was the program's first CIF title. Middleton said before the CIF Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal match against Santa Margarita that his team, the top seed, had the ability and the talent.

It took just one goal on the pitch, though, to suddenly end those dreams — and the Sea Kings' season.

Santa Margarita sophomore Taylor Klawunder scored late in the second half as the top-seeded Sea Kings were stunned, 1-0, in the upset loss at Jim Scott Stadium.

And yes, it was upsetting, particularly to the team's core group of seniors who lost in the CIF quarterfinals for the fourth straight season.

"It's pretty devastating because we thought this was going to be our year," said senior Ally Brahs, starting to tear up a little. "It's the fourth year losing in the quarters. It's such a bummer."

The goal came suddenly in the 74th minute, much too suddenly for CdM. Klawunder's twin sister, Kaitlin, crossed the ball in from the left. A CdM player tried to clear it, but it ended up right at the feet of Taylor.

Taylor Klawunder volleyed it from the top of the 18-yard box into the left corner of the goal.

"She hit a nice first-time ball that went back post," Middleton said. "No keeper's gonna save that."

CdM, which has never been to a CIF title match in girls' soccer, lost in the quarterfinals for the fifth time in Middleton's nine-year tenure. It was particularly disappointing because prior to the goal, the Sea Kings (22-3-2) had been dominating scoring opportunities in the second half.

Middleton started the game with Brahs back on defense marking sophomore Sam Trenary, Santa Margarita's top scorer. She did a good job at that but, as the first half ended, he moved Brahs up to forward. CdM started getting better looks.

It continued into the second half, as senior Sydney Raguse sent several booming free kicks into the box of the Eagles (16-5-2). The best chance came in the 68th minute, when CdM sophomore Miranda Stiver got open in the left side of the box. Her first shot was saved by Eagles goalie Taylor Wulf, and the rebound attempt went wide.

"I played her mostly at right midfield, but she started coming on at the end of the season as a forward," Middleton said of Stiver. "She'll be a threat next year up top."

Raguse and junior Alana Hunter consistently made plays in the back, keeping Santa Margarita at bay most of the game until the goal. Senior goalie Sarah Cox had to make just two saves.

After Taylor Klawunder's goal, the Sea Kings brought players up. Their last chance came on a free kick in the closing seconds, after senior Amanda Stephenson was fouled near the CdM sideline. Cox booted it into the box, but Trenary emerged with the ball as the final whistle blew.

Santa Margarita had just knocked out the top seed. Coach Chuck Morales knew it wouldn't be easy but said he was confident in his Eagles, who notched their 10th straight win and sixth straight shutout.

CdM had beaten Santa Margarita, 1-0, in the teams' previous meeting in the Butch Lee Memorial tournament two months ago.

"I thought they were studly," Morales said of CdM. "They did everything that we expected to them to do, and more. We had total respect for them going into the game ... they're an excellent team. They have nothing to be ashamed of. It had to take a great goal to beat a great team."

CdM's Annie Alvarado, who created opportunities in the midfield along with fellow junior Karsten Sigband, said the Sea Kings still have a lot to remember about this season.

"We just have to be proud of ourselves," Alvarado said. "We made it this far in Division 1. It's only our second year in Division 1. It's only eight teams left, and [Santa Margarita] is strong. They came out strong and won the game."

Middleton knows it will be tough to replace the four senior captains of Brahs (Washington), Stephenson (George Mason), Cox (Stanford) and Raguse (Michigan). They each have played key roles on varsity since their freshman year.

In that time, CdM has made a move into the Division 1 elite.

"Their presence in the program and the bar that they set, not only in soccer but academically, they've been the best role models for all the underclassmen," Middleton said. "You don't get into the schools that they got into just on athletics; you've got to have the academics also. They'll be missed, for sure. It'll be tough to fill those four shoes next year."


Twitter: @mjszabo

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