The Eastlake High School girls soccer team won its first-ever state regional playoff match on Tuesday as Ang Boyd scored off a throw-in by Dylan Christensen with 19 minutes to play to break a scoreless tie and, in the process, lifted the third-seeded Titans (16-2-6) to a 1-0 quarterfinal victory against sixth-seeded La Serna (26-3-4).
The win propelled Eastlake, the newly crowned San Diego Section Division I champion, to Thursday's semifinal match against either seventh-seeded Westview (15-10-2) after the Wolverines upset second-seeded Aliso Niguel by a 2-0 score, also on Tuesday.Thursday's regional semifinal match, which pairs the reigning San Diego Section Division I (Eastlake) and Division II (Westview) champions, kicks off at 4 p.m.
The Southern California regional championship match is Saturday, March 9, at Warren High School in Downey (3:30 p.m. kick-off).
Boyd also scored the game-winner in the Titans' 1-0 victory against top-seeded Carlsbad in last Friday's section Division I championship game.
Christensen's throw-in bounced off the heads of players attempting to gain control of it. Instead, the ball took a fortunate bounce right down in front of Boyd, who swiftly knocked it to the far post with her right foot.
The hosts, who had the better run of play in the second half, nearly scored twice more in the closing minutes.
EHS coach Scott Burress suggested his team's depth was a factor in the win. "All teams are fit -- it comes down to the size of your bench and how many players you can put on the field," he said.
The Titans substituted liberally throughout the match and did not suffer a drop-off in talent against the Lancers.
"The second half is what we train for," Boyd said.
About the game-winning goal, her second consecutive in Eastlake's most important contests of the season, Boyd was obviously elated.
"Exciting, awesome, I don't know how to put it," she gushed.
EHS goalkeeper Jojo McCaskill, the heroine of the previous win over Carlsbad, was only required to make a handful of saves against La Serna, though she had to dive down to collect a tricky shot at the near post in the dying minutes of play.
"She makes them look easy but they're tough to make, especially on set plays where players are crashing into you," Burress said.
Update: The Titans’ stellar season came to an end Thursday with a 2-1 overtime loss to Westview in the SoCal state semifinals. Eastlake led 1-0 on a goal by Gabby Sainz scored five minutes into the second half but could not get out of regulation play with a shutout to close out the victory despite several spectacular saves made by Titan goalkeeper Jojo McCaskill. The Wolverines stepped up their offensive pressure noticeably in the final 12 minutes of regulation play, and it paid off with an equalizing goal by Angel Meriwether with seven minutes remaining. Westview maintained its momentum into the sudden-victory overtime period, with Laura Buck scoring the game-winner just three minutes into the extra period.
“I’m very happy with our season and how our girls played in this game,” EHS coach Scott Burress said. “They played very well and almost won it. They scored two very good goals and deserved to win but we also had our chances to win it. I’m proud of our girls. It was a great season.”
The first five minutes were all Eastlake and it was unfortunate for the hosts not to come away with an early lead. The visitors seemed to regroup both offensively and defensively after that and each team took short shifts in controlling play.
The Wolverines clearly had the two best scoring chances in the first half. One shot caromed off the post with McCaskill lying prone on the ground. McCaskill displayed her superhuman goalkeeping skills on the other shot, leaping to her right to one-hand a rising shot out of harm’s way.
The Titans started the half with some momentum and it was quickly rewarded when Gillian Stargensky took a feed down the attacking left side. Stargensky passed ahead to teammate Blyss McCann, who quickly slotted a through ball to Sainz, breaking down the middle of the field.
Sainz directed her shot to the left of the Westview goalkeeper.
The Wolverines generated several near misses before netting the tying goal.
In fact, McCaskill had to make a diving save to her right to stop a shot ticketed just inside the post with 30 seconds left in regulation play.
Eastlake did have one good attack in the opening minutes of overtime but the visitors generated what proved to be a lethal counter-attack, led by Hailey Harbison, who drew the defense to her and then passed to the edge of the goal box to teammate Buck, who beat McCaskill cleanly.
The Wolverines advance to the Division I South California regional championship game Saturday at Warren High School in Downey.