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No. 4 Santa Margarita passes big test in win over Mater Dei
SANTA ANA - Before Tuesday’s first-place showdown with Mater Dei, Santa Margarita coach Chuck Morales acknowledged that this week would go a long way toward determining the pecking order in the Trinity League.
His team then went out and began its biggest week of the regular season with an impressive road victory.
Lauren Rodriguez, Kaitlin Klawunder and Samantha Trenary each scored goals to lead No. 4 Santa Margarita past the Monarchs, 3-1, on Tuesday at Mater Dei.
“I think everything will be defined this week and we met every challenge in our first test today," Morales said. “We needed to start off quickly, win the middle of the field, and deal with the environment, and we did those things.”
Santa Margarita, Mater Dei and Orange Lutheran entered Tuesday in a three-way tie for first place in the Trinity League. The win helped the Eagles (10-5-2, 4-1) avenge a 2-1 loss to Mater Dei in the Trinity League opener and maintain pace with the Lancers, who defeated Rosary, 4-0, on Tuesday.
Santa Margarita will be host to Orange Lutheran on Thursday.
“This is probably our biggest win of the season so far,” Trenary said. “We didn’t play very well in the first game against Mater Dei, and coming in here, we knew we had to work hard as a team.”
Santa Margarita established consistent pressure early in the first half and took a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute, as Trenary found Rodriguez cutting toward the goal with a well-placed lead pass and her subsequent shot deflected off a Monarchs defender and floated over the head of Monarchs sophomore goalie Julia Murphy and into the goal.
“It was a great ball played through, I checked inside and then outside, and popped a shot on my left foot,” Rodriguez said. “It was big to get the momentum started.”
The Eagles continued to establish their possession in the attacking third and increased the lead to 2-0 in the 31st minute. Off a cross into the middle of the box from sophomore Kassidy Gorman that was deflected, Klawunder fished out the loose ball and sent a shot into the far corner of the goal.
“The cross came into the goal, and off the deflection, I was able to collect it while it was bouncing and volley it into the top right hand corner,” Klawunder said. “We had movement off the ball and kept our composure in the final third which helped us score our goals.”
Mater Dei (7-6-4, 3-2) narrowed the lead to 2-1 in the 39th minute. Eagles junior goalie Chelsea Carey made a diving save on a ball crossed toward the goal by Monarchs senior Megan Crosson, but the rebound was collected by junior Shannon McAndrews, who blasted a shot into the net.
Led by Klawunder, Trenary, and sophomore Heather Walleigh, the Eagles continued to get deep into the attacking third throughout the second half for quality scoring chances.
In the 74th minute, Walleigh sprinted toward the goal on an attack and chipped a pass to Trenary, who controlled the pass with her chest, dribbled, and booted a shot into the net.
“She (Heather) saw what I was doing and hit it right,” Trenary said. “I chested the ball, had momentum, and was able to tap it past the goalie.”
Santa Margarita’s defense didn’t allow another serious goal scoring opportunity before the final whistle.
“I thought they (Santa Margarita) did a great job of keeping us under pressure, creating counterattacks, and capitalizing on them,” Monarchs coach Matty West said. “They deserve credit for being prepared and executing today. We are working on consistent energy and we’re going to re-commit and get after it in our next game.”