Laguna Hills goalkeeper Jocelyne Vera is surrounded by teammates and fans after stopping three shots in penalty kicks to help Laguna Hills win the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinal against Long Beach Wilson.

Laguna Hills dominates penalty kicks to advance


The long, lonely walk from the center circle into the box suddenly became a little less stressful for Laguna Hills’ penalty takers each passing round.

When Hawks senior keeper Jocelyne Vera guessed right and stopped the first Long Beach Wilson attempt in penalties, the pressure immediately swayed to the Bruins’ sideline.

Vera watched the next two Wilson attempts sail over the crossbar from her line. She would drop to the ground in celebration when teammate Rebecca Chavez knocked in the decisive strike moments later.

The Laguna Hills students, family and friends in attendance stormed the field Tuesday night in celebrating the Hawks’ CIF-SS Division 1 semifinal win over Long Beach Wilson, 3-0 in penalty kicks, after the squads played to a scoreless tie in regulation and overtime at Laguna Hills High.

The Hawks (20-2-1) advanced to the school’s first championship with the win and will play Mater Dei (14-4-7) in the final. The time and location of the match will be announced today.

“The kids just never stopped fighting,” Laguna Hills coach Kevin Macare said. “That’s what we’ve talked about all season. Can we better than we were last half? Can we be better than we were the last game? Just focus on being better and getting better. They’ve just bought in.’”

After a scoreless two halves of play, the Hawks and Bruins remained tied at the conclusion of two 10-minute overtime periods, setting the stage for penalties.

“I was just telling myself, ‘I know I can’t let this in,’” Vera said about stepping into net for penalties. “This first PK sets the tone for the rest of the PKs.

“It all happened so fast. Once I stopped it, the tone was set. And it was up to my team to finish their (takes) as well.”

Vera stopped Wilson’s Maxine Nagramada’s shot on the first penalty shot, and watched attempts by Sarah Maher and Kristina Hollbrook sail over the crossbar in rounds two and three.

Laguna Hills went 3-for-3 in their takes, as Michelle Caballero, Daniela Filipovic and Chavez each took confident strikes that found the back of the net.


In the Division 3 semifinals:

Cypress 1, Quartz Hill 0: Erin Frey scored on a second-half strike and goalkeeper Brooke Riddle stopped four shots as the Centurions (20-7-2) won their 14th consecutive match. Cypress will play West Torrance (19-4-5) in the final.

West Torrance 1, Brea Olinda 0: The Wildcats (18-9-3) lost a heartbreaker when the Warriors scored in the match’s final minute.

In the Division 7 semifinals:

Grace Brethren 8, Garden Grove 1: The top-seeded Lancers cruised past the visiting Argonauts (15-5-1) to reach the final.

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