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Tie helps Rosary stay in girls soccer playoff hunt

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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High school roundup.

After losing to Santa Margarita, 3-1, on Thursday, Rosary was determined to get a better result in Saturday's rematch.

A late set-piece goal from the Royals helped them stay in the race for a playoff berth and prevented Santa Margarita from assuming sole possession of first place in the Trinity League.

Freshman Stacey Juarez scored the tying goal on a corner kick in the 69th minute as Rosary earned a 1-1 tie with Santa Margarita in a girls soccer match Saturday at Servite High.

"This match shows that we are willing to fight and now we have to continue to work harder to improve every game," Juarez said.

Because of a scheduling change, the two teams played each other twice in the span of 48 hours. The Eagles rallied with three goals in the second half for a 3-1 victory in the first meeting.

"We watched film and saw where a lot of their attack came from," Royals coach Sean Melendez said. "We tried to keep them in front of us and the girls did a great job of that."

Santa Margarita (5-4-4, 2-0-2) is tied with Orange Lutheran for first place with four matches remaining for both teams, including a head-to-head matchup Jan. 31 at Orange Lutheran.

Rosary (7-8-6, 0-3-2) is two points behind JSerra and Mater Dei for third place. The Royals close the regular season with matches against the Lions (Jan. 31) and the Monarchs (Feb. 6).

Early attacking pressure from Santa Margarita resulted in a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute. Junior McKenna Roth found fellow junior Kaitlin Klawunder making a run down the sideline. Klawunder managed to get free of a defender and angle her body toward the middle of the field before uncorking a high, twisting shot that tucked into the far post corner of the goal.

"McKenna played a really nice ball down the line, and I was able to fake out the defender," Klawunder said. "Once I saw the opening, I was able to get off a good shot."

The Eagles continued their pressure later in the half, but the Royals defense stiffened. Freshman Mackenzie Hansen and sophomore Sam Dulac each made crucial clearances to prevent scoring opportunities.

Royals freshman goalie Emma Toohey also helped keep it a one-goal deficit at the half, making saves on left-footed shot attempts by Eagles senior Samantha Trenary in both the 29th and 31st minutes.

Santa Margarita's attacking pressure continued to start the second half and almost resulted in a goal less than a minute into the half. Junior Taylor Klawunder managed to get off a shot from near the top of the box that floated just over the crossbar.

Toohey, who had four of her seven saves in the second half, made a nice stop on a hard line drive shot by Eagles junior Kennedy Kraft in the 48th minute.

Santa Margarita continued to miss scoring chances later in the half. Senior Lauren Rodriguez was wide of the far post on a shot in the 53rd minute. Two minutes later, fellow senior Kailey Hackett booted a shot that was once again just wide of the far post.

Rosary had a scoring chance in the 62nd minute, but Eagles senior goalie Taylor Wulf ran up to block a shot attempt by sophomore Emilee Monnig.

Seven minutes later, junior Maddie McDonald sent a lead pass down the field for Monnig, whose subsequent run and shot on frame was knocked away with both hands by Wulf. But the ball trickled out of bounds to give Rosary a corner kick.

On the ensuing kick, the Eagles were unable to clear it out of the middle of the box before Juarez managed to get a foot on the ball and knock it into the net.

"The play went by really fast," Juarez said. "I saw the ball in front of me and I kicked it to make sure that it went into the goal."

Santa Margarita mounted late pressure throughout the final 10 minutes of the match. In the 70th minute, senior Jennifer Rupey had a shot saved by Toohey.

Four minutes later, junior Heather Walleigh found an opening and chipped a shot that floated over the crossbar. One minute later, Taylor Klawunder produced a shot the sailed wide of the goal.

Rosary received big defensive plays in the closing moments of the match from freshman Roisin Allaeddini, and sophomores Noelle Nisco, and Alyssa Valente to stop the Eagles' final scoring chances.

Santa Margarita head coach Chuck Morales acknowledged disappointment in the Eagles' inability to take advantage of their heavy pressure and the breakdown on their set piece defense that led to the match-equalizer.

"It was frustrating because we wanted to put the ball in the back of the net and we weren't able to do that enough," Morales said. "We also made one pivotal defensive mistake and we have to go back and work on defending set pieces."

Melendez was hopeful that his team can bottle some momentum as the Royals try to catch their league rivals and earn a trip into the CIF playoffs.

"This was great for our girls to work hard and get a point out of the match," Melendez said. "I hope that now we can get some momentum going into the second half of league."

Also in the Trinity League:

Mater Dei 2, JSerra 1: The host Monarchs (9-8-3, 2-3) received first-half goals from Shannon McAndrews and Lauren Markwith in their victory over the Lions (11-4-3, 2-2). Claire Quinn scored for JSerra.

In the Century League:

Foothill 4, El Modena 2: Kristen Reeves scored a goal and added two assists, as the host Knights (7-9-3, 4-3-1) rallied for three second-half goals to defeat the Vanguards (7-13-1, 1-8).

Contact the writer: jeichelberger@ocregister.com


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