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LEONARD ORTIZ, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
San Clemente players celebrate after the Tritons scored against Esperanza in the second round of the Excalibur Tournament on Thursday at Esperanza High. San Clemente defeated Esperanza, 1-0.

San Clemente edges No. 6 Esperanza at Excalibur

OCVARSITY.COM

The final preseason girls soccer tune-up tournament for San Clemente got off to a victorious beginning Thursday.

Junior Sara Sprenger scored in the first half as the Tritons defeated No.6 Esperanza, 1-0, in the second round of the Excalibur Tournament at Esperanza High.

"Everyone came together in this game and stepped up," Sprenger said. "This was a really good game for the team."

San Clemente (6-3-1) defeated Yorba Linda, 2-0, earlier Thursday on two goals from junior Nikki Faris. The Tritons will face Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga in the quarterfinals Friday at 11 a.m. at Yorba Linda High.

"This is a big deal for us because Esperanza is a quality team that always brings it," Tritons coach Stacey Finnerty said. "Our learning curve has been slower because we are a new team, and there is still a long way for us to go."

San Clemente was on the attack early and produced the goal in the sixth minute. Sprenger sent a pass down the side for Ally Lynn, who returned the ball to Sprenger near the top of the box. Sprenger's shot floated over Aztecs goalie Katelyn Sullivan and inside the upper corner of the far post.

"I called for the ball, and when it was passed back to me, I was able to volley it into the side of the net," Sprenger said. "It was so exciting because we worked hard for that goal."

The Tritons continued to pressure into the attacking third through the first half. Junior forward Nikki Faris produced three shots on frame in the first 11 minutes. San Clemente outshot Esperanza 8-0 throughout the run of play in the first half.
    
Finnerty was impressed with the way the Tritons offense continued to attack the Aztecs defense after scoring the early goal.

“I liked the organization that we had off the ball, which allowed us to keep possession longer,” she said.
    
Esperanza’s lone scoring opportunity came in the 31st minute, but a free kick by junior Catherine Newberry hit the crossbar and bounced away.
    
San Clemente nearly added another goal in the 47th minute, but a shot by sophomore Kaylee Kelly rolled inches outside of the far post.
    
Led by seniors Brittany Dyer and Nosa Ogiamien, along with junior Lauren Guerra, the Aztecs began to find room to move the ball in the middle and attacking thirds. Guerra produced a shot on frame in the 49th minute that was saved by Tritons sophomore goalie Korynn Marsh.
    
Newberry again nearly tied the match in the 57th minute, but she again had a free kick richochet off the crossbar.
    
Late defensive clears by senior Sydney Fuertes, junior Emma Burns, and sophomore Smara Bahu helped the Tritons thwart Esperanza’s final attacks and close out the win.
    
“We’re a young team and I don’t think the girls knew what to expect from San Clemente when they stepped out onto the field,” Aztecs coach John King said. “San Clemente is a team that works their tails off, and in the first five minutes, we found that out hard way."

We have to do some of the little things better and continue to grow as a team.”

In other Excalibur matches:

No. 7 Capistrano Valley 1, Tesoro 0: A first-half goal from Kaylee Karsh pushed the Cougars (7-1-1) past the Titans (4-5-1) at Capistrano Valley. Capo will face Long Beach Wilson Friday in a quarterfinal.

Mater Dei 2, Stockdale of Bakersfield 0: Goals from Shannon McAndrews and Lauren Markwith helped the Monarchs (6-3-3) post a first-round victory at Esperanza. Shawna Hennings made five saves for Mater Dei.

Edison 3, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks 1: Mackenzie Cerda scored two goals and Brooke Lillywhite one to pace the Chargers (5-2-1) to a first-round victory at Capo Valley.

At the North Orange County Classic:

No. 1 Corona del Mar 2, Fountain Valley 0: Miranda Stiver and Birkely Sigband tallied goals to help the Sea Kings (8-1-1) knock off the Barons (5-2-3) in pool play.

Valencia 3, Granite Hills of El Cajon 0: Angelica Flores scored two goals to lead the Tigers (5-2-1) to a pool-play victory at Roosevelt of Eastvale High.

St. Margaret's 5, San Luis Obispo 0: Two goals from Emma Morris guided the Tartans (3-3-2) to a victory in pool play at St. Margaret's High.


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