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San Clemente 12, Varsity 11 (5 OTs)

April 19, 2015

Trabuco Hills Girls Lacrosse Varsity has often been associated with words like quick, speedy, fast, and so on. One term that usually doesn’t apply is abrupt. In traveling to San Clemente High School to take on the Tritons in a South Coast League match, there was a lot of new terminology awaiting the Mustangs under Friday Night Lights.

san clemente logoSan Clemente burst out of the gate looking like a far different team than the one Trabuco Hills handled just 3 weeks ago in a 12-3 victory. Aggressive and organized off of the opening draw, the Tritons immediately set up an offense that would dominate time of possession for most of the game, with a very slow and deliberate pace that almost seemed designed to lull defenders to sleep if it wasn’t for the occasional player cutting across the arc. After netting their first goal, they then took advantage of a Mustang turnover and looped a long pass to a wide open attacker who was able to beat keeper Erin Beall for a 2-0 lead.

Trabuco finally got on the board nearly 6 minutes into the game when Jenelle Phillips passed a cutting Madison DuMond who beat the Triton net minder easily. This was followed up by a beautiful mis-direction play by Kendall Derbyshire, who passed back across her body to Marina Sandoval in the slot and the game was tied at 2.

The next 5 minutes were controlled by San Clemente which, once they had the ball, were content to patiently wait for their opportunities. A strong defensive presence by the Mustangs, backed up by a couple of nice saves by Beall, kept the Tritons at bay, but the Mustangs inability to gain control of loose balls extended San Clemente’s time of possession. Ultimately, a free position allowed the Tritons to regain the lead, which was followed up by another loose ball win and score that pushed their lead back to 2. Trabuco Hills finally responded by winning the next draw and getting the ball to Derbyshire, who found DuMond for a quick turn-around shot to momentarily break the Tritons hold on the game. Unfortunately, San Clemente would come back with 2 more goals, opportunities that came off of dropped passes by the Mustangs. Derbyshire then showed dogged determination in gaining possession of the next draw to give Trabuco Hills some life. She eventually found Juliet Mooney all alone in front of the crease, who was able to somehow sneak the ball past the Triton goalie who seemed to be in good position.

San Clemente once again slowed down the game, executing another painfully long offensive set. Beall was eventually able to make a key save and give possession back to Trabuco Hills, but another dropped pass by the Mustangs in front of the Triton goal gave the ball right back. Fortunately, Trabuco Hills was able to hold off any further Triton threat and went into halftime trailing 6-4.

From a fan’s perspective, it was almost like watching 2 games at once. The Mustangs had their running shoes on and played their normal speed game with aggression on both ends of the field, albeit not as effectively as normal due to the plethora of dropped passes that were plaguing them. In contrast, when they had the ball, the Tritons took things down to a maddeningly slow pace as they attempted to run their plodding offense. It was anyone’s guess as to which style would ultimately prevail.

Trabuco Hills came out with a different looking line-up to open the 2nd half, but the result on the draw remained the same; a San Clemente win. After getting the ball back without giving up a goal, the Mustangs moved quickly down the field and set up their attack. A free position was awarded to Phillips and she promptly opened the scoring on the 2nd half. On their next possession, it was Phillips again, this time coming out from behind the net and overpowering the keeper up high. Next it was Derbyshire, who emerged from what might best be described as a “muddle” of players with cellophane covering their stick heads with the ball firmly in hers, and that familiar resolve allowed her to beat the defenders to the goal and power a shot into the back of the net for the Mustangs first lead of the game.

During this time, defensive stalwarts Hannah Moller and Kody Shelton were able to thwart most of the Triton efforts on their end of the field, and Beall was there to back them up when someone could sneak through. As a result, the Mustang attack kept up the pressure, finding their rhythm and finally pushing their lead to a pair of goals after Phillips was able to rifle a quick shot into the top corner of the Triton net.

On the ensuing draw, San Clemente controlled the ball and took it all the way to score to break the Trabuco Hills momentum. After winning the next draw as well, the Tritons were able to set up and eventually tie the score with 10 minutes left in the half.

On their next set following another Mustang turnover, the Tritons were awarded a free position, which they converted with a beautiful pass to the side of the crease for a quick stick goal. Winning the draw again, San Clemente had a player “cherry-picking” behind the Trabuco Hills defense and lobbed a long pass over everyone to give her a point-blank shot on Beall and their 4th unanswered goal. This seemed to wake the Mustangs up, who stepped up with a renewed energy.

Taylor Fox was eventually awarded a free position, which she netted, and then the next possession saw Derbyshire slipping a pass to DuMond in the slot which resulted in yet another tie score at 10. Showing great resiliency, Trabuco Hills finally caught a break. With Shelton & Co. locking down everything out in front of the net, Moller was able to pressure the Triton ball carrier near the end line. In a 1-on-3 situation, Moller forced the issue and San Clemente somehow lost the ball out of bounds and she was given possession. With a beautiful and tenacious run and carry back down the field, Moller delivered a strike to Derbyshire who whistled the ball past the Triton keeper for an 11-10 lead.

San Clemente won the next draw and, after yet another deliberate offensive set, was awarded a free position that would, again, knot the game. With 46 seconds left, Trabuco Hills was able to come up with the biggest draw of the game and seemingly control what would happen at the end of the contest. Or so they thought. Executing a perfect crease roll, Derbyshire bolted out from behind the Triton net and delivered a scooting underhand shot through the defender’s legs that beat the goalie and caused everyone to erupt in celebration. However, the goal was waved off and a yellow card issued for dangerous propelling, to the astonishment of everyone in attendance, including the San Clemente faithful. As confusion abounded, the last few seconds ticked off the clock and the game headed to overtime.

In the 1st extra 3 minute period, not much happened. With the Mustangs holding the ball, they were content to let the clock run until the penalty time that carried over from the yellow card had expired, but then were unable to mount any sort of threat and the period ran out with no shot attempts. Overtime period 2 progressed at a similar pace, although both teams did have possessions off of turnovers. The Mustangs were able to muster a shot, but it rang off of the post and the score remained tied.

The next step was Sudden Death. First team to score wins.

Another 3 minutes saw missed passes and shots as both teams were playing it much more conservatively, looking for the perfect opportunity and trying to avoid costly mistakes. Still tied. Sudden Death period 2 – the 4th period of overtime – saw San Clemente generate the best chance, but their shot clanked off of the outside of the post and out of danger.

The 3rd Sudden Death opened ominously as the Tritons were able to easily win the draw and set up their offense. Sitting back and waiting behind the goal while teammates moved around, the Triton ball carrier finally attempted a crease roll on the weak side of the Mustang defense and was able to find enough space to slip the shot past Beall for a heartbreaking loss, 12-11, and sending Trabuco Hills off into the night scratching their proverbial heads with a lot of “what if” questions on their lips as well as some new terminology that would carry over from this game.

Record: 8-6, 3-2 South Coast League

Next: Tuesday at Aliso Niguel

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