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Los Alamitos finds fun way to get back to finals
ALISO VIEJO – Los Alamitos' girls lacrosse players had to be reminded by their coach to have some fun Saturday in a U.S. Lacrosse Division 1 South semifinal match against Santa Margarita.
The top-seeded Griffins took the advice of Coach Liz Connelly, breaking open a close match at halftime to defeat No. 4 Santa Margarita, 11-8, at Aliso Niguel.
Los Alamitos (16-2) will be out to win its fourth consecutive county title when it meets Corona del Mar on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Dana Hills.
The Griffins were a little tight at the start of Saturday's match, Connelly said.
"Santa Margarita played us tough, but at halftime we busted open a bag of gummi bears, kicked back a little and started having fun," Connelly said. "You never want to have to remind your team that it's fun, but it's refreshing when you remind them how fun this game is and why we play it."
The Griffins, who had a 6-5 lead at halftime, definitely had more fun in the second half.
Los Alamitos scored five consecutive goals within the first 10 minutes of the second half to break open the match and move on to Wednesday's final.
"I don't care about records or history, I care about this team," Connelly said. "It wouldn't have mattered if it were a consolation prize. I would want to win."
Grace Schmidt-Beck led Los Alamitos with six goals and Julie Crowell scored two goals, but Connelly said all of the starters contributed.
"We have 24 big guns, that's why we're good," Connelly said. "These girls work so hard, the girls who don't see the field are still probably starters on every other team in the county."
The defense was also solid, led by Sophia Aragon, Katrina Moretta and Devynn Turk.
"They are relentless on the field," Connelly said. "They hold it down."
Goalkeeper Emily Alpaugh had eight saves for the Griffins.
Santa Margarita, which finished 12-5 under first-year coach Artie Spruill, put up a battle. Adrienne Anderson scored five goals and Lena Huebscher added three goals.
"We knew going in it was going to be a tough battle," Spruill said. "We were excited to be here and the girls played their hearts out, so that's all I ever ask of them, so I'm excited."
Leading the way was Anderson, who tried to help the Eagles rally when she scored with 56 seconds left to cut the lead to three.
"She did a great job, she did what she could today," Spruill said. "They were double- and triple-teaming her and she still did her best."
Los Alamitos hopes to keep rolling Wednesday and get a shot at a fourth Southern California crown next weekend.
"I think we worked hard all season just to get this far," Crowell said. "These are the two weeks we worked the hardest for. We came out a little flat today, but we had a nice little pump-up speech (at halftime) by our coach and pulled it together and pulled it off."