Another scary ending, another Santa Margarita victory
The way in which Santa Margarita’s girls soccer team has engineered its playoff run is, in their own words, “scary.”
Having scored two goals over their last three games, the second-ranked Eagles have left little margin for error.
In Tuesday’s CIF-SS Division 1 semifinal against Rancho Cucamonga, Santa Margarita did not score at all. That is, until the shootout, where they have been quite a handful.
Christina Kosmala stopped the first two shots, and Gwyneth George put the final nail in the coffin as the Eagles defeated the Cougars, 4-2, in penalty kicks at Rancho Cucamonga High.
Santa Margarita is back in the CIF-SS finals for the second time in three years. The Eagles (18-5-2) will square off with No. 1 Tesoro, which beat Chino Hills, 2-0.
“We played a very hard-working, industrious, blue-collar team that never quit,” Eagles coach Chuck Morales said. “They were so strong defensively. In these games when you don’t score, it’s going to come down to who has the courage. We’ve been there. We’ve done this.”
The Eagles outshot the Cougars (18-1-6), 7-0, in the first half, and 13-2 through full time. That provided little comfort with the game going to golden-goal overtime.
“Of course those are scary,” George said of playing in scoreless games. “It’s about how you respond to them. I thought that we responded well because every time they got a shot, we were able to come down and get a shot.
“Getting the victory, it’s just from us being able to keep it on their half most of the night.”
Machaela George, Chloe Boice and Dani Spensiero scored the other penalty-kick goals for Santa Margarita.
Although the Eagles were successful in getting penetration on the wings, few of their chances came from the middle of the field. Cougars center back Lauren Perry nullified Santa Margarita’s set-piece chances by winning the ball in the air.
On the other end, Kosmala (seven saves) did not have to make a stop until the 65th minute. Coming off a shootout victory in the quarterfinals, the senior felt the pressure was on the Cougars.
“I was just trying to stop one at least because I knew my team would do the rest,” she said. “They all did their job.”
Also in Division 1:
No. 1 Tesoro 2, Chino Hills 0: Selah Gilmore and Skylar Smith scored the goals, and Sammy Garcia added an assist. Tesoro advanced to its first CIF-SS final since 2006.
Samantha Cude stopped four shots in the shutout for the Titans (22-5-3).
In Division 3:
No. 9 Yorba Linda 2, San Luis Obispo 1: Savannah Sloniger sent Jacquelyn Dunlap in on a breakaway for the winning goal for the visiting Mustangs in the 80th minute.
Brooke Morris tied it in the 70th minute, and Emma Deane made 10 saves for the Mustangs (15-4-3).
Yorba Linda reaches its first CIF-SS title game in school history. They will face top-seeded South Hills of West Covina.