Strong first half leads No. 10 Los Alamitos past No. 9 Santa Margarita
LOS ALAMITOS-A dominant first half effort proved to be enough to propel Los Alamitos Griffins to a big nonleague victory on the eve of the county’s second big preseason tournament.
Juniors Kelly Peterson and Cassie Mikalson each tallied first half goals to lead No. 10 Los Alamitos to a 2-1 victory over No. 9 Santa Margarita Tuesday at Laurel School.
The Griffins are one of 11 county teams that will participate in the 2012 Mater Dei Premier Invitational, which gets underway on Wednesday.
“We used today as preparation for the Mater Dei tournament, and in the first half, we were great and did everything that we were supposed to do,” Griffins coach Steve Soler said. “They are a good team and we were able to apply pressure and disrupt their rhythm.”
Los Alamitos, which is currently ranked No. 7 in CIF-SS Division 1, improved to 3-1-2. Santa Margarita, ranked No. 6 in CIF-SS Division 1, is now 2-2. The Griffins have now defeated Santa Margarita in three straight seasons during nonleague play.
The Griffins were the aggressors throughout the first half, repeatedly establishing extended possessions in the attacking half and penetrating into the attacking third.
Los Alamitos had two strong scoring chances in both the fifth and seventh minutes, but Eagles senior goalie Chelsea Carey prevented scores with saves.
The Griffins’ continued pressure finally yielded the first goal of the match in the 14th minute, as Peterson found space and hit a twisting shot that sailed to the right of a lunging save attempt by Carey and into the far post corner of the goal.
“I was going to go to the outside, but went toward the inside and took a shot,” Peterson said. “That goal pumped us a bit and helped set the tone.”
The Griffins continued to get penetration into the attacking third throughout the remainder of the half, out-shooting Santa Margarita 9-4.
Los Alamitos added to the lead in the 28th minute. Junior Phoebe Conrad uncorked a shot that was knocked away from the goal by Carey. But Mikalson tracked down the rebound in front of the near post and tapped a shot into the back of the net.
“I saw Phoebe shoot the ball and it looked like a good shot,” Mikalson said. “I told myself that I better follow it up just in case it didn’t go in.”
Santa Margarita began to get some runs into the attacking third late in the half, but two shots in the 37th and 39th minutes by senior Samantha Trenary were stopped by Griffins junior goalie Savannah Sickler to preserve the two-goal lead for Los Alamitos at the intermission.
The Eagles established more possession midway in the second half, as the Griffins were unable to clear balls completely away from the middle third. But big defensive plays from junior Meghan Randig, freshman Maureen Kennedy, and Calah Simarago prevented Santa Margarita’s extended possessions from yielding quality shots on frame.
Los Alamitos nearly added to the lead in the 70th minute, but sophomore Krystal DeRamos floated a shot that sailed just over the crossbar.
The Eagles produced heavy pressure late in the match and cut the deficit in half in the 78th minute, as Trenary got free for a shot that sailed into the far post corner of the goal.
Santa Margarita had one final scoring chance in the finals seconds, as Trenary found junior Kassidy Gorman for shot inside the box. But the ball sailed over the crossbar to preserve the Griffins victory.
Soler acknowledged that his team allowed the Eagles opportunities in the second half by not maintaining the same defensive pressure they had in the first half and by forcing balls into the middle of the field instead of utilizing space to set up attacks on the outside.
“In the second half, we were forcing the ball down the middle and that gave them room and the ability to play,” Soler said. “With a team like Santa Margarita, you can’t give them a lot of space and room to work with. We were good enough to win and that’s what matters.”