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Varsity 11, Temecula Valley 10 (OT)

April 10, 2013

The Trabuco Hills Mustang Ladies were back at it on Tuesday night after Spring Break, facing a tough squad from Temecula Valley that has shown dramatic improvement over last season. This was not going to be pretty.

Tememcula Valley logoThe Varsity Mustangs opened the game with poise and patience, taking the opening draw and setting up a deliberate offensive set around the Golden Bear net. The patience was rewarded when Kendall Derbyshire opened the scoring after finding a seam to slip through and notching the first goal of the evening. On the ensuing possession, the Mustangs displayed an active defensive stand, playing tight and strong on every Temecula Valley player to touch the ball. Niki Neely seemed to be everywhere, with quick feet and eyes apparently in the back of her head. A slight lapse in coverage on the off wing, however, allowed the Bears to tie the score at one.

The Temecula Valley squad suddenly woke up. A combination of tough, physical play and some defensive breakdowns by some of the Mustang defenders resulted in the Bears scoring 6 consecutive goals while the Mustang offense was stifled. The Bears showed an agile defense in front of their tenacious goalie, and the entire stadium could feel the anxiety growing as Trabuco Hills could not seem to solve her. Play got sloppy as the half wore on, with numerous missed passes on both sides as more than 10 minutes ticked off with no scoring on either end. Hope Dodd finally broke through in the final minutes, beating the Bear keeper with a surprising shot, and then scored again on a feed from Derbyshire in the last minute of play. Perhaps relaxing a bit too soon, the Bears were able to break through the Mustang defense one more time, scoring with only 1 second left to make the score 7-3 at the break.

The second half started quickly for the Mustangs. First, Melanie Leong found her way through the Temecula Valley defense with a score after a nice pass from Dodd, and then Megan McIntyre closed the gap even more with a goal of her own. The Bears defense became very active, harassing Mustang ball carriers and stepping into passing lanes on a consistent basis. Dodd eventually found Hannah Redwine with a precise feed to tighten the deficit to one. Trabuco Hills had a number of missed opportunities and failed to capitalize on favorable free position shots, one even missing a wide open net after a foul had been called with the goalie out of her crease. When the Bears halted the momentum with a tally of their own, one had to wonder if the misses were going to cost the Mustangs in the end.

Marina Sandoval caused everybody to sit up a little straighter with a well-earned goal, fighting her way to the net. But the game was becoming a defensive struggle, in part because of the large number of missed passes by both teams and because both squads picked up their level of play. As the comeback continued, physical play began to escalate for both teams, and several Mustangs would find themselves brushing turf off of their uniforms. Madison DuMond and Delaney Shelton again lent additional speed and determination to the back end and allowed Cyrena Malkowski good looks at potential shooters as her save total increased, at the same time clogging the defensive seams to prevent high-quality chances. An unlikely goal by Temecula Valley stretched their lead back to 2, but Dodd was then able to score her 3rd of the game after a superb individual effort allowed for a point-blank shot at the Golden Bear net. Unfortunately, the clock was not on the Mustangs side.

Every story needs a hero, though. In the last minute of regulation, that hero was Alex Miller. Using her speed and toughness, Miller was able to beat Bear defenders to the ball, carry it, get a whistle, and finally pot the tying goal. After an outburst of emotion, play resumed and Miller again gave the Mustangs a chance, but the 2nd half would end tied at 9.

In the 1st overtime, the defensive struggle continued, as did the sloppy passing and physical play, and no goals were scored. As the 2nd overtime opened, Temecula Valley came out with speed and netted their first in OT to make it 10-9. Dodd scored her 4th goal of the contest to make the score 10-10. Hero #2. The Bears then committed what seemed to be their entire team to cover every Mustang ball carrier, often going 5-on-1 to prevent any shots or passes. With 13 seconds left, Jenelle Phillips was in such a situation when a Temecula Valley player was called for a foul, resulting in what might be the last free position of the game. Phillips buried the shot – Hero #3 — and the Mustangs escaped with a very hard-fought 11-10 overtime victory.

When the dust settled, the real heroes were the girls who gave it their all, who will be nursing the bumps and bruises that were necessary for this game to turn around, those who paid the price for victory. On Tuesday, it was a team of heroes.

Record: 7-4-2; 2-2 Coast View

Next game: League match at Mission Viejo

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