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Mater Dei girls add Southern Section title to perfect season

STAFF WRITER

PLACENTIA – Courtney Walburger said she was surprised to hear her name called as player of the game of the U.S. Lacrosse Girls Southern Section championship.

“I was not expecting it,” she said. “It is such a huge honor, there’s so much talent on this team.”

On Saturday, the junior goalie and her Mater Dei teammates had all of their strengths on display as they capped off a perfect season with a 15-4 victory over Oak Park at Valencia High to become Southern Section champions.

Mater Dei defeated Foothill in Wednesday’s Orange County final.

Walburger had six saves for the Monarchs (21-0) in the victory.

“This whole season, we kept saying we have to believe and it’s possible, those were the words that were repeated throughout our season,” Walburger said. “I think that’s what brought us here.”

Mater Dei scored the first five goals of the game and led, 11-2, at halftime. By that time, junior Mackenzie Wallevand had already turned in a day’s work, scoring six first-half goals.

“At the beginning of the season, I didn’t think we could go undefeated,” Wallevand said. “The fact that we did is mind-blowing. I’m so excited for my team.

“We knew coming in that we wanted to go full-throttle, defense and attacking, we wanted to push out and pressure and score as much as we can.”

Lauren Gonzales added five goals and Grace Houser chipped in three. Maddi Hooks had the other goal for the champion Monarchs.

“They’ve just worked super hard,” Mater Dei coach Cressita Bowman said. “We’ve been going since last summer, so they’ve been in the weight room, on the the field, they’ve had nutrition meetings, we’ve done some mental stuff, we’ve tried to cover all bases of the athlete to make them as strong an individual as they need to be to band together to be a strong team, so we’ve put a lot of time and effort in.

“After last season, with that loss in the semifinals, we were really just motivated to come back stronger and tougher than last year. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Mater Dei lost to Beckman in last year’s county semifinals, fueling the motivation for this season.

“That was a huge letdown for us,” Walburger said. “We took that pain and brought it into this season and said we didn’t want to feel like that again. We didn’t want that sadness that we had last season.”

Contact the writer: dcalhoun@ocregister.com


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