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Varsity 15, CdM 14 OT (Playoffs)

May 1, 2013

PLAYOFF WIN

Vince Lombardi once said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” In the opening match for Trabuco Hills of the 2013 postseason, “will” would be tested.

Celebrating the win!

Celebrating the win!

The Varsity’s opponent: the #8 seed Corona del Mar Sea Queens. The location: the CdM grass field on a breezy and sometimes chilly afternoon. The quest: advance beyond the 1st round of the playoffs, a postseason ritual the Trabuco Hills ladies have reached for 7 consecutive seasons.

After winning the opening draw, #9 Trabuco Hills looked poised and determined. After controlling the ball for nearly 2 minutes, Becca Haggard was able to find a crack in the active Sea Queen defense and scored the opening goal off of the far post. A promising start. The following draw saw CdM control the loose ball, a trend that would continue throughout most of the game, and move it down the field quickly to tie the score. The Mustangs responded after Melanie Leong was awarded a free position and promptly beat the Sea Queen keeper. On the next possession, Trabuco Hills showed a strong defensive presence, anchored by an energetic Niki Neely, but CdM was able to exploit a breakdown on the back side to again tie the score.

MORE PHOTOS HERE

Unable to win the loose balls, the Mustangs found themselves in a bit of a hole after the Sea Queens scored 3 more quick goals, utilizing a very physical defense, quick feet, and precise tic-tac-toe passing. Still struggling in the center circle, the Mustangs were finally able to come up with a turnover and Hannah Redwine then threaded a nice pass to Marina Sandoval for an easy goal. Jackie Huse was playing a scrappy game, frustrating several Sea Queen midfielders, and Alex Miller was persistent on the ball. Personnel changes on defense left Trabuco Hills with a lack of speed, and CdM quickly exploited it with 2 more goals. Megan McIntyre was able to stop the bleeding with a sharp goal off of a feed by Redwine, and the Mustangs were able to limp into halftime trailing 7-4. The bottom line was that CdM was winning most of the draws and the loose ball battles, and were simply more aggressive than Trabuco Hills.

Niki Neely fights through traffic

Niki Neely fights through traffic

“You never win a game unless you beat the guy in front of you. The score on the board doesn’t mean a thing. That’s for the fans. You’ve got to win the war with the man in front of you. You’ve got to get your man.” ~ Vince Lombardi

Whatever was said at halftime, Coach Scott Leong should bottle it for later use. The Mustangs came out inspired, pushing the attack right back at the Sea Queens. After a hard foul, Redwine carried the ball into an absolute traffic jam in front of the CdM net and found a way to slip the ball past the goalie to make it 7-5. Following another rough exchange and several hard checks, Kendall Derbyshire found Hope Dodd for a beautiful quick-stick goal. McIntyre would win the next ball off of the draw, find Dodd in a crowd, and then watched as Dodd hit the afterburners, beating all defenders down the wing before switching to her left hand and tying the game as she cut across the front of the goal mouth. That was followed by Neely making a gutsy play to win a loose ball in a scrum, getting it over to McIntyre, who then found Huse who proceeded to split the defense and score on a bounce shot. 4 unanswered goals by the Mustangs. And throughout everything, Goalie Cyrena Malkowski was spectacular, turning away multiple high-quality scoring chances.

CdM was not discouraged. They quickly responded to again knot the score, but Leong then stepped up to come out of a midfield scramble with the ball and delivered a precise pass to Dodd for the goal. Again, CdM came back, this time with an elusive weave through a myriad of Mustang defenders to even things up. 2 more quick goals by the Sea Queens left the Mustang faithful nervous, at the very least. Dodd would not be denied, however, as she narrowed the margin to 1, but CdM struck again to provide a little cushion as the clock was becoming a factor. Cue Redwine. Stepping into the center circle, her fortitude was palpable. A draw win. Offsides. A Dodd goal. Again, a draw win. Possession in the offensive zone. A missed shot that Dodd was in perfect position for, resulting in another goal. Tie game! Once more, with feeling. A Redwine draw win. Drew a foul call. Taking it in herself from the wing, scoring with her signature low scoop shot. 13-12 with 36 seconds left to play! Could it be?

Not yet. The tenacious Sea Queens were able to control the ensuing faceoff, draw a whistle for a free position, and tie the game with 24 seconds remaining. Overtime yet again, but this one carried a little extra weight.

In the 1st overtime period, CdM won the draw and commenced to pass the ball around the perimeter of the Mustang zone for over 2 of the 3 minutes before running a set misdirection play that allowed one of their dangerous attackers a wide open shot. Neely was able to win the loose ball off of the following draw, without regard for personal safety, and get it up to Dodd, who quickly beat the CdM goalie on the near post. 14-14.

Key goal by Hannah Redwine!

Key goal by Hannah Redwine!

At the opening of the 2nd overtime period, Redwine again won the draw and was able to move the ball over to Huse, who carried into the offensive zone, did a crease roll, and finally slipped the ball inside the near post to give the Mustangs a perilous 1 goal lead. Once more, cue Redwine. A key win on the draw gave possession back to Trabuco Hills, who set up their own perimeter game. CdM was very aggressive and challenged every ball handler. Drawing a yellow card, the Sea Queens were relegated to playing short for the remainder of the period. With the clock working against them, CdM attacked every pass and cradle with 2 and 3 players, but the Mustangs were able to weather the storm, run the final 2 ½ minutes off of the clock, and held on for a hard-fought 15-14 overtime victory. It was Trabuco Hills’ first playoff win since 2009.

“… I firmly believe that any man’s finest hours – his greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” ~ Vince Lombardi

The next challenge: At #1 seed Los Alamitos on Thursday.

CLICK HERE for the Orange County Register’s coverage of the game.

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