Eastbluff trounces Mariners

COSTA MESA — Cyndi Lauper would have loved the Mariners Elementary fifth- and sixth-grade girls' bronze division soccer team that proved, even in the face of stifling defeat on Friday, that "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

Lauper's signature anthem of the 1980s could have been the theme song for the Marlins, though it was Eastbluff that also clearly enjoyed its 5-0 triumph in the Daily Pilot Cup soccer tournament at Jack Hammett Sports Complex.

After Eastbluff scored on more than half of its nine shots, while allowing Mariners just one shot from well outside the 18-yard box, it was Mariners players who followed the match-ending whistle with a bounding circle of screaming players more typically associated with victory.

Already trailing by the five-goal margin, it was Mariners players who shrieked and giggled and teased one another in the closing minutes of the game, prompting smiles from their conquering rivals.

"They had good sportsmanship," Eastbluff standout Nikki Senske said of the Marlins' players, though Eastbluff coaches Patrick Senske and Dave Wood also showed class by directing their girls not to score about halfway through the 25-minute second half.

"That's what this team was all about," Mariners Coach Lori Williams said when questioned about her girls' loud and seemingly joyous response to a match that evened their tournament record at 1-1. "We're just here to have fun."

As it had shown in its 5-0 tournament-opening victory, the Otters were there to create scoring chances. The team of all fifth-graders, who won the third- and fourth-grade bronze division title as a unit in 2011, showcased its speed, unselfishness and organization to trounce a Mariners squad that had topped Newport Coast, 4-0, in its opener.

"I think we played well and we passed the ball well," Patrick Senske said. "It was fun."

Madison Trester, part of four sets of twins playing for the Otters, opened the scoring in the fifth minute, when she pushed a shot through the legs of the goalkeeper after the ball popped loose inside the 18-yard box.

In the 16th minute, the first of two Paige Wood assists led to the first of three goals by Nikki Senske, the lone club player for Eastbluff who was clearly the best player on the field.

Kimmie Bigi ran onto a through ball from Bronwyn Tosh in the 18th minute and scored on a breakaway to finalize the first-half scoring.

The lead grew seven minutes after intermission when Senske rocketed a corner kick that caromed off a Mariners defender near the goal line and inside the near post.

Senske capped her hat trick with her fourth goal of the tournament in the 37th minute. The final goal came courtesy of a Paige Wood assist, as Wood followed a run inside the box with a cross that gave Senske a point-blank opportunity.

Trester now has three goals in two games for the Otters, who also received strong play from Sophia Tung, Christina Bigi and Brenna Tosh on Friday.

Goalkeeper Audry Tumbarello made her team's only save, before being relieved by Julia Tung in the final five minutes.

Shawna Larsen, Kelly Kaplan, Alex Nevejans, Lana Debbanah and Maddy Resnick also contributed for the winners.

Kili Skibby, who had a goal in the opening victory for Mariners, stood out on offense for the Marlins on Friday. She had the team's lone shot and displayed notable dribbling skill.

Sterling Solomon (first half) and Rachel Lemmon (second half) had two saves apiece for the Marlins, who also received strong defensive play from fullback Auna Ellis.

Also chipping in for Mariners were Ella Donald, Olivia Sinatra, Nicole Kincaid, Jordan Williams, Holland Baum, Lauren Dewan, Leah Padden, Kiki Hawkinson, Ali Woodward and Bella Swart.

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