No. 7 Capistrano Valley rolls into Excalibur semifinals


MISSION VIEJO-Another strong all-around effort helped the Capistrano Valley Cougars move one step closer to claiming the Excalibur sword.
Senior forwards Anne Hinman and Samantha Celani each scored goals to lead the Cougars to a 2-0 win over the Long Beach Wilson Bruins in the quarterfinals of the Exaclibur tournament Friday at Capistrano Valley High.
Capistrano Valley (8-1-1) has now defeated its three tournament opponents by a combined score of 8-0.

The Cougars will face Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga in the semifinals Saturday at 11 a.m. at Esperanza High. The Grizzlies advanced to the semifinals by outlasting San Clemente 5-4 in PK’s after the teams played to 0-0 tie in their quarterfinal match on Friday.

“I was very pleased with how we controlled the tempo of the match,” Cougars coach Neil Powell said. “We competed physically, which gave us time to play our game.”

The Cougars controlled possession early in the match, as senior midfielder Alex Hussar had the first shot of the match sail over the goal in the fourth minute.

Capistrano Valley pressured the Bruins again in the eighth minute, but Bruins junior goalie Samantha Moreno stopped a header from Cougars senior midfielder Jordyn Belanto.

The Cougars, who outshot the Bruins 6-3 in the half, put the first goal of the match on the scoreboard in the 22nd minute. Hinman managed to locate a loose ball in the box and blasted a hard line drive from the near post past Moreno and into the back of the net to give Capistrano Valley a 1-0 lead.

“We had good movement on the ball and I was able to keep running and finish it,” Hinman said. “The goal really helped us settle down and play better.”

The Cougars continued to control possession throughout the remainder of the half, as the passing of Hussar and junior forward Casey Murphy led to several Cougar runs toward the goal.

Capistrano Valley continued its' pressure early in the second half and added to the lead in the 37th minute, as Celani managed to get off a shot in the box that was kicked away by a Bruins defender. The ball bounced right back to Celani, who followed it with a hard line drive back into the net.

“I hit it right to the defender, and when the ball came back to me, I knew I had to hit it hard back into the goal,” Celani said. “The goal helped boast our confidence to hold onto the lead that we had.”

The Bruins tried to answer in the 40th minute, but junior goalie Aubrie Coley made a nice diving save to her left to stop a shot by Bruins senior forward Madi Grieve.

The Cougars’ good ball movement nearly produced another goal in the 48th minute, as Hussar managed a nice pass into an open space for Hinman, who slipped another pass over to Celani running toward the near post. But her shot rolled just wide to the outside of the post.

The Cougars defense sealed the win, as defenders Riley Eggeman and Bailey Selecky helped shut down the Bruins final attacks of the match.

Hussar outlined what it will take for the Cougars to have success against Los Osos in the semifinals, as Capistrano Valley continues its quest to win the tournament for the first time since winning back to back titles in 1998 and 1999.

“We have the skill and the players to win offensively, but we have to come out hard and win the defensive battles,” Hussar said. “We have to win the ball in the air and win our tackles.”

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