Fri, Feb 01 2013 03:33 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
It doesn’t appear the defending Mesa League champion Otay Ranch Mustangs are ready to give up their title — just yet, anyway. The Mustangs knocked Hilltop out of contention for a co-championship with current league leader Eastlake by virtue of their 6-2 victory Thursday afternoon at the Parkway pool.
Otay Ranch closes out league play with a game this coming Tuesday against Eastlake at Mater Dei Catholic High School at 7 p.m. If Otay Ranch defeats Eastlake, the Mustangs, Titans and Lancers will finish tied for a rare tri-championship. If Eastlake defeats Otay Ranch, the Titans will reign as sole Mesa champs in 2012-13.
Mustang coach Ernie Medina credited his team’s defense as being the difference Thursday. Previously, Hilltop defeated Otay Ranch, 6-5, on the strength of two late goals to overcome a 5-4 Mustang lead in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense has played well all year,” Medina said. “For this game, we adjusted our defense to their offense and our offense to their defense.”
Mustang goalie Emma Cornwell recorded a school record 17 saves in buoying her team’s chances of registering a victory. She blocked a five-meter penalty shot by Hilltop’s Irene Ramos to blunt a fourth quarter comeback bid by the hosts.
Otay Ranch (5-2 in league, 15-5 overall) never trailed in the rematch. Cailin Lechner put the Mustangs up 1-0 and Paola Vizcarra leveled the score for Hilltop as the opening quarter came to a close. Reigning Mesa League Player of the Year Sarah Medina took over from there with three pin-point shots to the upper far corner of the cage to push the visitors ahead 4-1.
Veronica Guzman made the score 4-2 on a backhand shot to close out the first half. But the younger Medina scored the only goal of the third quarter to give her team a 5-2 lead.
Fernanda Arambula’s lob shot made it 6-2 early in the fourth quarter and Cornwell stuffed the five-meter shot by Ramos shortly afterward to seal the verdict.
Cornwell had to be the defensive star of the match with her school record 17 saves, five-meter block and two steals.
Sarah Medina led all players in the pool with four goals and six steals while Arambula had one steal and three field shot blocks and
Lechner had one steal.
“The field blocks and the five-meter block made a huge difference,” Ernie Medina said.
Hilltop suffered its second league loss and fell to 12-7 on the season. Regardless of the outcome of the league championship race, the Lancers appear to be a slam-dunk for inclusion in the upcoming San Diego Section Division II playoffs.
HHS coach Matt Chism remains proud of his team.
“They had our number, they shut our strengths down,” Chism said. “We just need to stay healthy and keep a good mind-set. It’s hard to come back from emotional losses.”
The Lancers had moved into a tie with Eastlake atop the league standings after dealing the Titans a 9-7 defeat Tuesday at Southwestern College. Guzman led Hilltop with five goals, followed by Ramos with three goals and Vizcarra with one goal. Goalie Aurora Clark was credited with six saves.
Hibah Ahmed led the Titans (4-1 in league, 11-9 overall) with three goals.
Clark was credited with 13 saves in Thursday’s game against Otay Ranch.
Cornwell matched the CIF record with five shutouts in the Mustangs’ 11-0 victory against Bonita Vista on Tuesday. Sarah Medina went over the 130-goal mark for the season with four goals while Lechner scored three goals and Gabby Nunez and Camy Benitez each scored twice. Medina also contributed two assists and 10 steals.
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