Yorba Linda goalie Emma Deane gets a hand on the ball, but South Hills scored a goal on a rebound a second later during the CIF-SS Division 3 championship game Saturday. South Hills won, 2-1.

Yorba Linda's thrill ride ends with disappointment


CORONA – Defeat is agony.

Perhaps it was the fear of such a feeling that sparked Yorba Linda’s girls soccer team to so many memorable victories in the CIF-SS playoffs.

The Mustangs dug deep into their bag of miracles one last time, but their comeback fell short. Top-seeded South Hills of West Covina defeated Yorba Linda, 2-1, Saturday in the Division 3 championship game at Corona High.

It was the first finals appearance for the Mustangs (15-5-3) in their six years as a varsity program, and it capped a thrilling run in the playoffs that included two victories in penalty kicks and a triumph in the semifinals that required a last-minute goal.

Yorba Linda’s season will continue in the Southern California Regionals, which start next week.

“This is farther than we ever thought that we would be able to go,” Mustangs captain Jacquelyn Dunlap said of making it to the title game. “It does not feel good to not come out with that win, but I’m proud of every minute that we’ve played so far.”

Trailing, 2-0, in the 68th minute, the Mustangs broke through on a set piece. Savannah Sloniger’s free kick from the top-left corner of the 18-yard box found Caitie Dolan, who headed the ball past South Hills goalkeeper Alyssa Lopez (nine saves) for the goal.

The Huskies (23-1-5) kept the pressure on, utilizing their precise passing to keep the ball on the other end of the pitch.

The Mustangs were limited to a pair of long free kicks by Sloniger down the stretch as they searched for the equalizer.

“There’s never any quit in our group,” Mustangs coach Greg Aviles said. “They always believe that we’re going to get it done. They’ve had too many experiences with throwing punches at some big teams.”

Amber Marinero scored both goals for the Huskies. Her second-effort header got past Emma Deane (seven saves) in the 51st minute.

Marinero doubled the lead 10 minutes later.

“We’ve been wishing for this since the beginning of the season,” Marinero said. “It’s more exciting than anything.”

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