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Aliso Viejo 19 , Varsity 17

April 22, 2015

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Both could be said about Tuesday’s game pitting Trabuco Hills Girls Lacrosse Varsity at the Wolverines of Aliso Niguel, depending on which part of the game you happened to be watching.

In a see-saw battle, the visiting Mustangs were seeking to establish themselves as the front-runner for the South Coast League title in a season of parity amongst the schools around Orange County.

Aliso logoAliso Viejo was able to snag the opening draw but quickly turned the ball over as they attempted to set up their offense. Trabuco Hills soon returned the favor and the Wolverines raced back down the field again. A free position was turned away by Mustangs keeper Erin Beall, who then hit Hannah Moller with the outlet pass. Good work by Moller in moving the ball out of danger ended with a pass to Ashley Murillo, who then got the ball out to the top of the arc and into Jenelle Phillips’ stick. Phillips raced around the edge of the defense and notched the opening goal of the game.

In the next sequence, Kody Shelton came up with a loose ball and, after some sharp passing moved the ball down the field, Phillips wound up with a great finish for her 2nd goal. Shannon Smith then won the next draw cleanly over to Kendall Derbyshire, who carried it around the Wolverine zone before locating Marina Sandoval to push the Mustang lead to 3-0 early in the game. This seemed to finally wake up the Aliso Viejo squad, who suddenly had some extra jump in their step and came roaring back with 4 unanswered goals. Trabuco Hills was able to regroup and get the ball to Becca Haggard, who sped down the field and found Derbyshire with an accurate pass, which she deposited into the Wolverine net.

Aliso Viejo’s next possession was swarming, but the Mustangs put up a strong defensive stand. Persistence paid off, however, as the Wolverines managed to connect a pass to the weak side and regain the lead. Winning the following draw, they attacked again, this time twisting the Mustang defender up and stepping around her for a point blank shot. With momentum starting to build against them, Trabuco Hills battled for the next draw and Haggard came away from the pile in full stride with the ball securely in her stick. She got the pass over to Sandoval, who was then able to spot Juliet Mooney all alone in front of the Wolverine goal for an easy score. Derbyshire then grabbed the next draw, sprinted into the Aliso Viejo zone, passed across to Phillips, who found Mooney camped out in front of the keeper again for another uncontested goal to tie the game at 6.

After a time-out, the Wolverines came out and quickly regained the lead. Derbyshire came up with another draw win and hit Phillips with a pass just inside of mid-field. A weaving run through several defenders put Phillips in on top of the goalie for her 3rd tally. The next couple of times up and down the field for both teams yielded no results, then the Mustangs were awarded a free position and Mooney converted. A free position of their own resulted in Aliso Viejo tying up the score, but then Trabuco Hills found their stride as Derbyshire and Madison DuMond teamed up for a score, then the same with Derbyshire and Phillips. Phillips then sustained through a harassing defense and connected with a cutting Sandoval to push the lead to 3. Aliso Viejo responded with and outnumbered rush for their 9th goal, then was awarded a free position late in the half and the teams went into the break with Trabuco Hills holding an 11-10 advantage.

The Mustangs won the opening draw of the 2nd half, but promptly turned the ball over which allowed the Wolverines to tie the game. On the next possession, Aliso Viejo executed a length-of-the-field run, which targeted the perceived weak spot in the Mustang defense, to regain the lead. After winning the next draw, the Wolverines picked on the same spot to push their lead to a pair of goals. Trabuco Hills was finally able to get onto the scorer’s sheet as Phillips whistled a shot into the back of the Wolverine net, but then Aliso Viejo was able to capitalize on another Mustang turnover – there were 24 in the game – and snuck a shot in just past Beall. The Wolverines then proceeded to go into slow-down mode, extending the offensive zone with wide passes and making the Mustangs come out to engage them as 2 more goals resulted. Trabuco Hills trailed 16-12, having only scored 1 goal on limited possession time in over 12 minutes of the 2nd half.

Coach Scott Leong then inserted Shelton into the center circle in an attempt to change things up. After an initial hiccup, time of possession started to come back to the Mustangs as they were able to gain more balls off of the draw. Phillips scored off of a free position. Then DuMond was able to locate Mooney, who was once again all alone in front of the Aliso Viejo net, for a quick marker. The Wolverines pushed back with a score, but then Audie Shutler was able to force a turnover and eventually deliver a strike to Phillips, who added goal #7 on the evening. The teams traded goals, with Derbyshire awarded a free position after another draw win, but passed, instead, to Sandoval for a quick score from the side of the crease. Then Moller stepped up with a tough carry down the field that allowed her to get the ball to Sam Ransom, who then found Mooney in her new favorite place – in front of the Aliso Viejo goal – and the Mustangs were within 1 with just over 90 seconds to play.

The Wolverines were able to gain possession of the ensuing draw and stretched out the offensive zone once again. Out of desperation, Trabuco Hills tried to pressure the ball carriers and fill up passing lanes, but there was too much ground to cover. After a long and frustrating sequence for Mustang players and fans alike, Aliso Viejo found an opening and netted a quick-stick goal with just 8 seconds remaining. Final score: Aliso logo

The Mustangs showed great resilience yet again in battling back from deficits and challenges. There is great character on this team in addition to some outstanding talent. As Trabuco Hills makes their push to the playoffs, this see-saw season is preparing them for even greater trials. The best of times may still be waiting for them.


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