Mater Dei midfielder Lauren Markwith, left and Faith Harper give each other a hug as the clock runs out and the Monarchs beat Scripps Ranch 1-0 in the CIF Southern California Regional Division II girls soccer semifinal.

Mater Dei enjoys 'fun' run to regionals final


Awaiting Mater Dei’s girls soccer team after the final whistle of Thursday afternoon’s CIF Southern California Regional was a makeshift human tunnel formed by the Monarchs faithful, similar to those formed by parents after youth games.

After the entire squad had made its way through the row of outstretched arms, there emerged Coach Matty West, receiving high-fives and handshakes from everyone he passed.

“This is so much fun,” he said, beaming with excitement.

The Monarchs’ magical postseason run continued Thursday as junior Cassie Soto scored in the 59th minute, giving host Mater Dei a 1-0 victory over Scripps Ranch of San Diego in the Division II semifinal.

The second-seeeded Monarchs (17-4-7) advance to play for the regional championship on Saturday afternoon against top-seeded La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad. The start is set for 4 p.m. at La Costa Canyon High.

“I was just so impressed with their attitude, their effort, their teamwork and how bad they wanted it,” West added. “I think we showed incredible heart today and we really rallied for each other.”

Absent Thursday was Monarchs star forward Olivia Ware, who wore a walking boot on her right foot after rolling her ankle in Tuesday’s win over Madera South.

While Mater Dei controlled possession for much of the first half, it missed its playmaking striker, producing just one real scoring opportunity before the intermission.

Nineteen minutes into the second half, junior midfielder Brianna Selbo sent a long ball from just inside midfield to the top of the 18-yard box where Soto had positioned herself. Shielding off her defender, Soto controlled the pass, turned and slipped a shot past the Falcons keeper to take the 1-0 lead.

“I feel like we keep improving and we keep growing,” West said. “We’re really just enjoying the ride.”

In Division III:

Oaks Christian of Westlake Village 2, Laguna Hills 1: The Hawks, who put together one of the county’s best turnarounds this year, were eliminated from the regionals by the second-seeded Lions. Laguna Hills, a two-win team in 2014, went 21-4-1 and reached the CIF-SS Division 1 championship game this season.

Cathedral Catholic of San Diego 1, Santa Margarita 0: Dana Dalton notched the match’s only goal in the first half as the San Diego power went on to shut out the Eagles (13-8-5).

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