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Girls soccer season preview for 2012-13
The Aliso Niguel girls soccer team produced a championship script for the ages in 2011-2012.
Posting a 23-1-4 overall record, the Wolverines punctuated their climb back to the summit of CIF-SS Division 1 with a 2-1 comeback victory over archrival San Clemente to win the school's first CIF-SS title since 2001.
The Wolverines capped their remarkable run by rallying from a two-goal, second-half deficit to defeat previously undefeated Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga, 3-2, in the CIF Southern California Division 1 Regional championship match. They ended the season ranked No. 1 in the nation by both ESPN and Max Preps.
————————————————————While some might think those championship memories would serve as the springboard for the 2012-13 season, Wolverines coach Randy Dodge has been emphatic that his team understands it can't simply rest on last season's accomplishments.
"The girls know that seasons like last year are hard to come about," he said. "This team is completely different from last year, and we are now focused on what we need to do this year. We know we have to work harder than we did last year, and I feel our players are ready to meet that expectation."
The Wolverines were known for their balanced scoring last season, and Dodge doesn't expect that to change with this year's team. Aliso Niguel returns five players who tallied at least five goals last season, including first-team All-County and All-CIF midfielder Sarah Roberts, who scored a team-high 10 goals.
The Wolverines will have a tougher time matching last season's ability to rally in pressure situations. In addition to their comeback victories in the CIF-SS and CIF regional title matches, Aliso Niguel rallied to win in the tournament title matches in the Aliso Cup and Mater Dei Premier Invitational.
"We absolutely look forward to having different players step up at the right times like we saw last year," Dodge said.
The biggest question mark surrounding the Wolverines is at goalie, where they must replace the clutch production of Sammy Prud'homme, who graduated after being named the CIF-SS Division 1 Player of the Year last season. Freshman Alyssa Noh and senior Riley Sims are the leading contenders to start at goalie.
"Both bring a lot of positives to the position and we'll need them to step up," Dodge said.
The one prize the Wolverines didn't win last season was the South Coast League title. Dodge knows the path to a league title this year will be a grueling one. The South Coast features two other Division 1 semifinalists from a season ago, San Clemente and Dana Hills, along with two traditional county stalwarts, Tesoro and Mission Viejo.
"For our program, that is our goal right now since we haven't won one in a while," Dodge said of the league title. "I think you won't find a better collection of teams in one league in the country."
Aliso Niguel will begin its season Dec. 4 against Long Beach Poly in pool play for the Aliso Cup Tournament.
"This group of players will create their own identity," Dodge said, "and at the end of the year, we'll see if this team will have performed at its highest and reached its potential when they needed to."
EAGLES PRIMED TO RENEW TITLE CHASE
Last season ended with Santa Margarita celebrating a major achievement – winning the CIF Southern California Division 2 Regional title – and looking ahead to winning more championships in 2012-13.
"As a young team, we did what we had to do to win the regional title," Eagles coach Chuck Morales said. "Coming back this season, we are more mature and more physical. I think we can be a force."
Santa Margarita is missing only two players from last year's team and it returns starters at every position.
Morales pointed to the team's CIF-SS Division 1 semifinal loss in penalty kicks to Aliso Niguel as a turning point mentally for this year's team.
"The loss and physical beating that we took against Aliso was probably the biggest building block of all for us, because we took them to PKs where anything can happen," he said. "Aliso was the rightful winner, but the maturation through that adversity helped the girls, and they are confident."
The Eagles' offense will be led by first-team All-County and All-CIF senior forward Samantha Trenary, who scored the winning goal in the regional title game against Bishop Amat. She also tallied a team-high 20 goals last season.
"She's healthy at the beginning of the season and has resolve," Morales said. "Sami is a girl that can do some many good things, and I think she is going to have a big year."
First team All-County and All-CIF senior defender Kailey Hackett anchors a defense that produced 10 shutouts in the final 14 matches last season.
Despite the abundance of returning talent, Morales highlighted one component that could ultimately determine the plight of the Eagles' season.
"Camaraderie is the biggest key for us to be able to play into March," Morales said. "We are in a good place right now and that has to continue happening."
O.C. TEAMS AT TOP OF CIF RANKINGS
Sunny Hills and St. Margaret's begin the season ranked No. 1 in their respective CIF-SS divisions.
Sunny Hills open the season atop the Division 2 rankings. The Lancers return eight starters from a team that posted a school-record and county-best 30 wins last season in addition to winning the Freeway League title. They advanced to the CIF-SS Division 2 title match before falling to Los Osos of Rancho Cucamonga, 1-0. Sunny Hills' only other defeat last season was a 1-0 nonleague loss to Aliso Niguel.
St. Margaret's, the two-time defending CIF-SS Division 6 champions, moves up to Division 5 this season and begins the season ranked No. 1. The Tartans' lineup features the return of first-team All-County midfielder McKenna Marmelstein, and all-Academy League seniors Stephanie Brunswick and Alexis Leon.