Opportunistic Canyon knocks off No. 8 San Clemente
SANTA ANA- With open space and only the keeper to beat, Canyon senior Camila Espindola-Villarino had one thought in her mind as she sprinted down the field toward the goal.
“I was thinking that this might be one of our best chances and I have to put it away,” she said.
Espindola-Villarino didn’t waste the opportunity, tallying the lone goal of the match to help the Comanches edge No. 8 San Clemente 1-0 in a Group A match at the Mater Dei Premier Invitational Thursday at Mater Dei High.
Canyon (4-3-2), which lost to Harvard-Westlake in their tournament opening match on Wednesday, is now tied with San Clemente (4-2-1) for second place behind the Wolverines in the group brackets heading into the final day of pool play.
The Comanches will face Cathedral Catholic on Friday, with the Tritons playing Harvard-Westlake. The winner of the group will advance to Saturday’s semifinal round.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and wanted to make sure we got our numbers up in transition in the second half,” Canyon coach Walter Camargo said. “Game by game, the girls are starting to get more comfortable with each other and I think that we are heading in the right direction.”
After both teams looked for sustained attacks early in the match, San Clemente began to get penetration into the attacking third. However, Comanches sophomore goalie Mia Hummel kept the Tritons off the scoreboard with a kick save off a shot from Tritons junior Nikki Faris in the 12th minute and with another save off a shot by Tritons senior Jenny Hayes in the 14th minute.
The Tritons continued to create chances throughout the remainder of the half, outshooting the Comanches 7-3. But they were unable to convert their opportunities into goals.
The decisive play of the match took place in the 43rd minute. After stealing a pass, Comanches sophomore Mikayla Arcebido slipped a perfect lead pass down the field to Espindola-Villarino, who broke free into the attacking third and booted a shot into the back of the net.
“I knew that my teammates had worked hard to get the ball and that I had to execute to get that goal,” Espindola-Villarino said.
Camargo acknowledged that the goal was key in helping Canyon settle into a rhythm in the second half.
“It was a good play for us,” Camargo said. “Mikayla (Arcebido) took the ball away from them, we got them on the counter, and then Camila put the ball away. That goal helped us settle down, keep possession, and slow their tempo down.”
Though Canyon produced more scoring chances later in the half, the Tritons defense turned them away to keep it a one-goal deficit.
Hummel, who produced 10 saves overall, came up big again in the 53rd minute, stopping a shot by Tritons junior Kelly Jameson.
A key clearance of the attacking third by senior Jessica Cadreau in the closing moments of the match helped Canyon clinch the victory.
“I was happy with our possession when we had it, but sustaining it is a big deal for us,” Tritons coach Stacey Finnerty said. “We’re a new team, and in time, we are going to figure things out and utilize our strengths more in the attack. I’m expecting good things.”