COSTA MESA — Most professional athletes who would say they need to shoot the ball more might be labeled as selfish, or not about the team.
But after watching her Carden Hall girls' fifth- and sixth-grade gold division team dominate possession Tuesday at Jack Hammett Sports Complex, yet escape with just a 1-0 victory over St. Joachim in their Daily Pilot Cup opener, Sophia Morris' admission seemed accurate.
"I think if we took more shots, more would go in," Morris said. "I think I passed too much. I think I should take more shots."
The aggressiveness may come for Carden Hall, which still has two pool play games left. Some would say this is a rebuilding year for the Eagles, who have won two straight fifth- and sixth-grade gold division titles. Morris and Rachel Davis are the only returners off last year's championship squad.
But Carden Hall still has talent. Morris proved that four minutes into the game, when she scored off teammate Sophia Kristiansen's corner kick.
For much of the rest of the game, Carden Hall kept the ball in the St. Joachim side. Credit St. Joachim goalie Marley Presiado (seven saves) and defenders Hailey Macias, Allison Crandell and Linnea Kelly for keeping the score close.
Morris, who scored a goal in last year's 2-0 title-match win over Pegasus, seemed to always be around the ball. She nearly scored again just before halftime, but her free kick glanced off the crossbar. A follow-up attempt went just high.
Morris and Davis displayed a good chemistry on the pitch. Near the end of the game, they just missed on a pretty cross that would have given the Eagles a two-goal advantage.
"We know our strengths, and we know our weaknesses," Morris said.
The same is true about her team. As for Carden Hall's chances this year, she again showed good perspective.
"I liked having a good team last year, but it's always good to try new experiences so you get better," Morris said. "I'm hoping for the best."
Carden Hall Coach Doug Nichols said it wasn't bad for his team's first game. He credited Kristensen, as well as Elizabeth Reichner, for dominating the middle of the field.
Crissy Gutierrez made four saves for Carden Hall, which plays Newport Heights in its next pool-play game Thursday.
"The kids moved the ball around a lot," said Nichols, who added his team needs to capitalize on its chances more.
St. Joachim Coach Ed Holmberg saw his daughter, Aly, nearly convert a free kick chance. Nikki Lindh also had several good opportunities for St. Joachim in the second half, which was played more even.
Holmberg said St. Joachim has struggled in the gold division since winning the silver division three years ago.
"They still dominated most of the second half," he said. "We had a few moments, but for the most part they dominated."
Now, the Eagles just need to shoot the ball more.