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Aliso Niguel wins again, moves closer to state title
Following a season-long script of clutch goals and strong defensive play, the Aliso Niguel girls soccer team continued its winning ways and moved one step closer to another CIF title.
Sarah Roberts provided the eventual deciding goal in the second half and goalie Sammy Prud'homme recorded seven saves, as the top-seeded Wolverines defeated El Camino Real of Woodland Hills, 2-1, in the semifinals of the CIF Southern California Division 1 Regional Championships on Thursday at Aliso Niguel High.
"We don't want to lose and want to go as far as possible with this team," Prud'homme said. "Our team finds a way to capitalize on mistakes and finds ways to win."
The Wolverines (22-1-4) advance to Saturday's championship match, where they will take on Los Osos High. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Warren High in Downey.
“We’re exhausted and for these kids to come back and play two games against two of the best teams around is huge,” Wolverines coach Randy Dodge said. “El Camino Real is very good and we hung on. We have special players that know how to grind it out.”
Aliso Niguel caught an early break in the match to take 1-0 lead in the 13th minute. A header off a Conquistadors defender floated over the head of goalie Alex Best and into the back of the net for an own goal.
Led by Dylann O’Connor, El Camino Real (24-3-1) responded with heavy attacking pressure later in the half, but Prud’homme came up big. She stopped a shot from O’Conner in the 18th minute and then dove to stop a left-footed shot by O’Conner in the 22nd.
“They had some players that could finish, but I was just ready to read the ball and react either way,” Prud’homme said.
The Conquistadors had another scoring chance in the 37th minute, but a shot by Zoe Fishman sailed wide of the far post.
Aliso Niguel increased the lead to 2-0 in the 49th minute, as Roberts found a space in the middle of the attacking third and chipped a shot that grazed off the fingertips of Best and bounced over the goal line.
“I saw her off her line and thought if I could just chip her, it would go in no matter what,” Roberts said. “This (success) all comes from heart and dedication.”
The Conquistadors cut the deficit in half seconds later. Off the ensuing kickoff, Jackie Altschuld found an open spot in the Wolverines defense and blasted a shot that sailed over Prud'homme, bounced off the crossbar and into the goal.
Aliso Niguel nearly added a goal in the 58th minute, but a header by Dominique Bond-Flasza ricocheted off the crossbar, but bounced away from the goal.
In the 63rd minute, O'Connor got free again in the attacking third and managed to get off a potential match-tying goal, but Prud'homme deflected the ball away from the goal with an extended dive to her right.
The Conquistadors continued to pressure the Aliso Niguel defense in the attacking third during the final moments of the match, but big defensive clears by Tegan Cramer, Jordan Ansara, and Breanne Chilton-Eddy helped the Wolverines close out the win.
“We didn’t do the best job of clearing balls today and Aliso was physical and pushed us around a bit until we got used to the physicality and the pace of the game,” Conquistadors coach Eric Choi said. “We tried to play our game, but they were disruptive with what they did. It was unfortunate to be down 2-0 and it was an uphill battle all the way through.”
In the Division 2 semifinals:
Santa Margarita 2, St. Lucy's 2 (Santa Margarita advances on PK's 4-3): Chelsea Carey had a key stop in the penalty kicks session as the Eagles (17-5-4) advanced to the Division 2 championship match by beating the Regents (20-10-4) at Santa Ana Stadium.
Samantha Trenary had a goal and an assist for Santa Margarita, which will face Bishop Amat in the championship game Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Warrren High in Downey.