Mariners still dancing at Pilot Cup

COSTA MESA — Many of Coach Lori Williams' girls said they are dancers, not soccer players.

Well, the girls are still dancing in the 14th annual Daily Pilot Cup.

The girls kept Mariners Elementary School alive in the tournament, as the wild-card team slipped past Christ Lutheran, 3-2, in the quarterfinals of the fifth- and sixth-grade bronze division on Saturday at Costa Mesa High.

The player with the most artwork on her jersey produced the game-winning goal in the 47th minute. Kili Skibby, off a corner kick, found the back of the net and ended Christ Lutheran's impressive two-year run as the bronze champion.

"They did great," Williams said. "We were the [third] wild-card [team in the quarterfinals]. Today was good. Most of these people have not played soccer."

Mariners will get to play soccer for at least another day in the tournament. Mariners qualified for the semifinals, where it will face Rea on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

Skibby made it possible. Her corner kick in the final three minutes of the 50-minute match seemed to touch a defender before the ball bounced in.

Skibby finished with two second-half goals. Her first broke a 1-1 tie in the 27th minute. The goal came on a penalty kick after the referee called a Christ Lutheran player for a handball infraction in the box.

One Christ Lutheran supporter was surprised the referee awarded Mariners with a PK. With 10 minutes to go, the referee awarded another PK, this time to Christ Lutheran because of another handball infraction in the box.

Ivy Greiner took the PK and tied the match at 2-2 in the 40th minute. Greiner was the only sixth-grader playing for Christ Lutheran, which only had one girls' team in the tournament. The small school had mostly third- , fourth- and fifth-graders competing, and they performed at a high level against Mariners' defense, which included Ella Donald, Anna Ellis and goalkeepers Rachel Lemmon and Leah Padden.

One of the youngest and shortest players for Christ Lutheran, third-grader Leila Bahnsen, evened things up in the 13th minute.

Ten minutes after Ali Woodward gave Mariners a 1-0 lead with a nice goal from the right side, it was Bahnsen using her elusiveness to beat a defender and then sneak the ball past the keeper. The keeper appeared to seal off the left post, but somehow Bahnsen found an opening.

Bahnsen's older sister, Annika, played keeper for Christ Lutheran. The fifth-grader made key saves and received help from defenders Leslie Sotelo and Ella Ferguson.

Mariners continued to attack with the speedy Olivia Sinatra. She broke through midway through the second half, but Bahnsen raced toward the loose ball inside the box and secured it.

Bahnsen lost her cleat in the process. With her gloves, she was able to put her shoe back on, but not tie her shoelaces. Sotelo helped her out.

Eight minutes later, no one was there for Bahnsen. The corner kick Skibby sent went deep into the box and then crossed the line.

"They were great," Williams said of Christ Lutheran's players. "That was a fun game to watch.

"We're going to crush tomorrow. We're going to see how it goes. But we'll keep having fun."

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