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Varsity 8, Capo Valley 7 (2 OT)

April 26, 2015

With great anticipation, the Trabuco Hills Girls Lacrosse Varsity invaded Cougar Country as they traveled south Friday to Capistrano Valley High School. Having battled to a heart-stopping 1-goal victory just 3 weeks earlier, the Mustangs knew the task that lay ahead would not be an easy one. And with the League Title and play-off seedings at least partly within their control, this clash would go a long way to determining what things might look like by this time next week.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 10.26.05 AMThe opening draw certainly had a different look to it as Kody Shelton stepped into the center circle. After a scramble, the Cougars came away with the ball and deliberately moved it around the offensive zone, a sort of a feeling-out process to see what the Mustang defense was going to give them. After circling the zone a couple of times, an attacker sprung free from a crowd and was able to score the first goal of the game.

After winning the next draw, Trabuco Hills carried into the Capo Valley zone only to turn the ball over to the Cougars who, in turn, gave it back a few seconds later. The Mustangs were able to get a shot off after gaining possession, but it went off the post and back to the Cougars. Up and down the field, players from both teams were testing one another. 2 free positions were awarded to Capo Valley but both were turned away. The Mustang defense was stout, once again being led by Shelton and Hannah Moller, who were both ferocious in covering the most dangerous Capo Valley attackers. After gaining possession again, Trabuco Hills raced back down the field and Jenelle Phillips found Marina Sandoval in the slot for the Mustangs’ first tally.

Shelton won the next draw cleanly right to Kendall Derbyshire, who slipped the ball to Jenelle Phillips for a nice run and score, putting Trabuco Hills into the lead. The game was starting to resemble the last clash between these teams, as play in the respective offensive zones was effective but resulted in limited production. Capo Valley finally capitalized on a free position awarded to team leader Allie Butler, but their chances were being severely limited by a determined Mustang defense. On the other end, Trabuco Hills was pressing the matter, but numerous key saves by the Cougar net minder was keeping the game close. After a long drought, Phillips was finally able to notch the 3rd goal for the Mustangs.

The next draw win saw the Shelton/Derbyshire connection really starting to click. Trabuco Hills went into a slowed down version of their offense, looking for the right opportunity. When it came, the Capo Valley keeper was up to the challenge and sent the Mustangs away empty handed. The Cougars were able to set up their offense and maneuver for a high quality shot, but the ball hit the outside of the post and rolled harmlessly toward the sideline as the clock ran out on the first half, with Trabuco Hills holding on to a 3-2 lead.

The opening minutes of the 2nd half saw more of the up-and-down movement of the game before Phillips got the scoring going almost 4 minutes in. A free position allowed the Cougars to narrow the lead back to 1, but after the Mustangs came away with the next draw, Phillips worked the ball around and behind the Capo Valley net before feeding Sandoval for a quick shot and score. Another scramble after the draw gave Trabuco Hills the ball again, but another solid save by the Capo Valley goalie led to a fast break for the Cougars, who crossed up the Mustang defenders and again trailed by 1. Fortunately, outstanding play from Sandoval, Becca Haggard, and Madison DuMond was contributing to the limited scoring chances being given to Capo Valley, complimented by the efforts of defenders Shelton and Moller, who declawed Butler’s offensive prowess, and Ashley Murillo and Rachel Gillet, who contributed to a true team defensive effort.

The more methodical game was allowing for more plays to develop as well, evidenced by Phillips utilizing a brilliant screen to break free and push the lead back up to 2 again. Another free position resulted in another Capo Valley goal before Phillips tallied again, this time rolling out from behind the net for a seeing-eye shot that eluded the Cougar goalie. Yet another free position for Capo Valley pushed the score to 7-6 with less than 30 seconds to go. Although they would win 63% of the draws on this day, the Mustangs were not able to hold onto the next ball and the Cougars were suddenly in hurry-up mode; rolling out from behind the Trabuco Hills net, the Capo Valley ball carrier crashed into Moller while taking the shot, which snuck inside the far post and tied the score with 8 seconds left to play in regulation.

After this perceived adversity, the Mustangs still had a chance to win. Shelton’s draw was snagged by Phillips who went barreling in on the Cougar goal, but the ball somehow fell innocuously out of her stick before she could shoot, and the teams were headed to overtime. Haven’t we been here before?

With 26 shots taken, most would assume that would be more than enough offense, but not today. In winning 21 ground balls and limiting turnovers to just 8, it would seem to suggest a winning combination. But it would take at least another 6 minutes to see if that was true.

In the first overtime, the Mustangs won the draw again and set up a patient, methodical possession around the Capo Valley goal. Derbyshire was eventually awarded a free position and she buried the shot deep into the net for an 8-7 lead. Once the Cougars got the ball back, Trabuco Hills withstood an unwavering onslaught from the Capo Valley offense, shutting down any scoring opportunities and allowing the clock to finally run out.

The second 3 minute stanza opened with yet another draw win for the Mustangs and another extended possession. A shot was eventually taken after 1:45 but the save was made and the Cougars had life. The Mustangs were then able to force a turnover, however, and with a dogged will they were able to hold onto the ball until time expired, preserving a gratifying 8-7 victory.

Record: 9-7, 4-3 South Coast

Next: Host Tesoro, Tuesday

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