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Aliso Niguel 16, Varsity 11

March 21, 2013

Trabuco Hills Girls Lacrosse Varsity lost at Aliso Niguel, 16-11, in a non-league match Thursday.

Aliso logoIt proved to be the most eye-opening event of the 2013 season, as the Mustangs ran up against a buzzsaw in the difficult contest.

The game opened with the Mustangs picking up where they left off in their last game against Mission Viejo, exhibiting good work in the defensive zone and crisp passing all over the field. Trabuco Hills would strike first when, after Kendall Derbyshire was able to move the ball quickly downfield on a long run, she was able to convert to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead. The Wolverines were quick to answer, however, and with their definite size advantage and precise seam passes, the score was soon tied. On the next Mustang possession, Aliso Niguel unleashed a swarming defensive scheme, double and triple teaming every Mustang ball carrier as soon as she received a pass. Their active sticks and physical style disrupted the Trabuco Hills game plan which soon resulted in a 2-1 Wolverine lead.

Good pressure by the Mustang defense, led by Niki Neely, helped to slow down the Aliso Niguel offense, but goalie Cyrena Malkowski was under constant attack by the aggressive Wolverine forwards as she made a number of spectacular saves to keep the score close. On the other end, the Wolverine defense put up what, at times, seemed to be an impenetrable shell around their own goal; content to let the Mustangs pass the ball around the perimeter, it was a matter of time before a mistake could be converted into a turnover. Their quick transition game and speedy midfielders moved the ball rapidly back into the Trabuco Hills end and quickly increased their lead with an unstoppable shot. It was also becoming obvious that the Wolverines were completely dominating the center circle, winning almost every draw with determined will. Unfortunately, this trend would continue throughout the game.

Trabuco Hills would not give up. Megan McIntyre closed the gap to 1, but Aliso Niguel answered right back. Then, on a great effort, Hannah Redwine battled to keep a ball alive as two Wolverine defenders fought her for it and, as the ball popped free, Hope Dodd alertly snagged it out of mid-air while in full stride, beat the remaining defenders, and scored to close the gap to 1 again. Aliso Niguel scored 2 more quick goals in response. It soon became clear that the Wolverines also had a significant height advantage, which they also adeptly used to gain an edge over their mostly shorter counterparts, winning several loose balls or batting balls to open teammates to gain possession. Through all of this, Jenelle Phillips was able to find the back of the net, but the Wolverine offense continued to swarm the Mustang net, scoring 2 more quick goals. As the half was winding down, Dodd made a nice run that resulted in her second goal, but Aliso Niguel again responded with one of their own before time ran out. It was only because of the gritty determination of the Mustang squad and Malkowski’s 11 difficult saves in net that the score remained manageable, Aliso Niguel holding a 9-5 lead.

The 2nd half started exactly as the 1st half had ended, with the Wolverines winning the draw, racing down the field, and scoring. The next sequence they showed great patience before spotting the opportunity to score again. Dodd netted her 3rd of the game just to see Aliso Niguel come back with 3 more of their own; the frustrated Mustangs saw every offensive victory squelched with an immediate response and simply could not muster any momentum. The Wolverines maintained a hard, physical defensive presence in their own end, and their midfielders and forwards were still running as if the game had just started. Hannah Redwine broke their rhythm momentarily with a beautifully placed shot only to see them come back with 2 more tallies.

The Mustangs finally developed a little rhythm of their own, winning their 1st draw of the 2nd half and Dodd turning that possession into a goal. Another draw win resulted in McIntyre netting her 2nd with a really nice effort and jump shot over the top of the Wolverine keeper. Redwine was also able to convert again before Dodd closed out the scoring with her 5th goal of the match. The dogged determination and game plan of the Aliso Niguel squad was simply too much to overcome, even with the late rally, and the Wolverines were rewarded with a 16-11 victory. The Mustangs will surely regroup as they prepare to return to South Coast League play next week.

Record: 5-3-2, 1-1 South Coast

Next game: At El Toro, Tuesday.

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