Girls' Soccer: CdM moves on

COSTA MESA — Two proud girls' soccer programs met on the pitch Thursday afternoon at Jim Scott Stadium.

Corona del Mar is trying to win its first CIF Southern Section title in the sport. Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos won the Division 2 title last year before being moved up to Division 1.

It was just a first-round match, but the Sea Kings knew Los Osos, an at-large entry from the Baseline League, would be tough.

"Even first-round games, there's no gimmes in Division 1 girls' soccer," CdM Coach Bryan Middleton said. "It was a tough draw for us, and a tough draw for them."

Middleton's squad definitely showed its toughness in the physical match, and it moves on.

Miranda Stiver scored a first-half goal for CdM and Annie Alvarado added a second-half penalty kick as the Sea Kings won, 2-0.

CdM (16-3-4), the Pacific Coast League champion, moves on to play Esperanza in the second round Tuesday. Esperanza beat Huntington Beach, 4-0, in another first-round match.

The host of the second-round match will be determined Friday morning by coin flip.

Los Osos (14-8-4) was a bit down this year. The Grizzlies finished fourth in their tough league and their longtime coach, Mychal Armstrong, was fired last month. But all it takes is one goal to turn one match around.

However, the Sea Kings earned their fifth straight win and third straight shutout behind defense from captain Alana Hunter, Alexa Mamatas, Shelby Brown and Brynn Motal. Goalies Kendall Mulvaney and Kat Hess only had to combine for four saves. CdM was able to contain speedy junior Victoria Bolden, easily Los Osos' leading scorer with 11 goals.

Bolden's best chance came near the end, when she got separation in front of the net, but her shot was high.

"We fought for every ball 100%," said Mamatas, bound for the University of Arizona. "We made sure we had each other's back and defended well together. [Bolden] was hard to mark. I was nervous to go up against her, but I knew that if we went out hard and shut her down in the beginning, then we had more of a chance against her."

CdM took the lead in the 30th minute, after junior Jayden Smith played the ball in front to Vassar College-bound senior forward Emily Krebs. The ball deflected off a defender and went to Stiver in the left side of the box. The Oregon State commit found the mark, scoring her sixth goal of the season and giving the Sea Kings a 1-0 halftime lead.

The goal only seemed to turn up the intensity. Alvarado, a senior captain bound for UCLA who was taken down several times in the match, got a yellow card in the second half after a bit of retaliation against Los Osos' Devyn Kelsey. But minutes later, the Sea Kings doubled their lead.

Sophomore Elise Roche earned a penalty kick on a seemingly questionable call in the box in the 57th minute. Los Osos Coach Kamran Rahim was incredulous at the call, but Alvarado scored the penalty kick into the lower right corner.

"Their player swung back, and my player put her foot out and got to the ball," Middleton said. "When the [opposing] player swung through, she missed the ball and hit the foot. Even though it didn't throw her on the ground, you could see she hopped up and was like, 'Ow!' The thing was, the ref was only like 10 feet away, and he called a lot of fouls on both teams."

CdM almost added another goal in the 65th minute on Stiver's header, but she was ruled offside after taking a nearly 50-yard free kick from senior captain Karsten Sigband. The Sea Kings also had a nice build-up from senior captain Maddie O'Connor to sophomore Birkley Sigband near the end of the match. Sigband crossed from the left to Roche, but Los Osos goalie Anne Bailey was there.

It was a team effort from CdM, which also got good second-half minutes in the midfield from freshman Chloe Rice.

"They took [Stiver's second goal] back from us, but that was a goal," said Middleton, whose team has outscored opponents, 16-2, in its last five matches. "We put the effort in and finished our opportunities today. It was a good win; it keeps the momentum going."

CdM also continues to get healthier. Mamatas, who missed three weeks during league with a sprained ankle, said sophomore center back Brianna Westrup (knee) also could return in the second round. The intense Westrup, always focused on the match and communicative with her teammates on the bench, has been out since the league opener Jan. 10.

"We're all just coming together as a team," said O'Connor, a UC Santa Barbara signee. "Yeah, everyone's getting healthy, but I think we've really bonded over the last couple of games. We went through a rough spot in the middle of our season, but we all just really want it and are coming together. I think we're just now peaking, whereas last season it was more toward the beginning of the season.

"I think we can only go up from here, and we all want it, so I feel pretty good."

Twitter: @mjszabo

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