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Herstory: Titans get their kick to first CIF championship game Phillip Brents | Fri, Mar 01 2013 12:04 PM

Penalties. Spot-kicks. Kicks from the mark. Whatever you choose to call it, the overtime shootout tie-breaker is one of the most despised things in soccer.

“I hate ’em but it’s what we train for,” said Eastlake High School senior goalkeeper Jojo McCaskill.

McCaskill and her Titan teammates went through the PK roller-coaster ride Tuesday night in their San Diego Section semifinal match against visiting Torrey Pines.

The object of the tie-breaker is just that — to determine not so much a winner but which team advances to the next round.

Both second-seeded Eastlake and sixth-seeded Torrey Pines had battled through 80 minutes of regulation play and one 15-minute sudden-victory overtime period mired in a scoreless deadlock. One team had to advance to Friday’s Division I championship game and the PK shootout was the only way to determine that.

It’s a roll of the dice, at best.

“The first one you kind of guess,” McCaskill said. “After that you look at their feet to see which way they might go.”

McCaskill guessed correctly and got a hand on one shot, though it still went into the back of the net.

Fortunately, the Falcons missed wide on their second shot, taken by Eva Buechler, and the Titans (14-2-6) scored on all five of their shots to claim a 5-3 tie-breaker victory.

“It was scary,” admitted Eastlake freshman Ari Robles, who scored the game-winning PK. “I was afraid to miss because it would have forced us to keep scoring. I didn’t want to let my teammates down.

“When I scored, it was the best feeling.”

Ang Boyd, Ridley Gatlin, Blyss McCann and Kacie Morton preceded Robles with successful shootout goals.

Katie Fletcher, Abigail Palkowitz and Macy Vrabel each scored for Torrey Pines (13-9-1).

Though the regulation portion of the match might have been scoreless, it certainly wasn’t for a lack of action.

The Titans, though out-played by the Falcons in the opening 30 minutes of the contest, clearly had the best chances to score in the second half. The Titans missed just wide on a breakaway shot with about 15 minutes remaining in regulation play.

Instead of moping, EHS players continued to generate more scoring opportunities.

“What that did for us was to put the momentum on our side,” Titan coach Scott Burress said. “We were trying for it. Give credit to Torrey Pines — they came down here and played well in what must have seemed like a hostile environment. I felt like we had the momentum because of our fans, almost a full stadium.”

Burress admitted the shootout could have gone either way. In fact, Eastlake dropped a PK tie-breaker to Steele Canyon in the Premier Division final of the Bonita Vista tournament in December.

“Either way, I was happy with the performance of our girls,” Burress said.

There’s no question both teams deserved to win. The Falcons played pretty soccer while connecting passes in midfield. However, the EHS defense was so well organized that McCaskill was required to make just two saves prior to the PK shootout.

The Titans will face top-seeded Carlsbad (14-2-5) in Friday’s championship game at Mesa College after the Lancers topped fourth-seeded Poway, 1-0, in Wednesday’s semifinal match.

Friday’s title contest kicks off at 6 p.m.

Eastlake has fielded varsity sports for 20 years. It’s taken that long for a girls soccer team to qualify for a division championship game. “I’m about to cry — that’s how it feels,” McCaskill said.

Almost famous
Hilltop, seeded fifth in the Division II field, scored the jump goal on top-seeded La Costa Canyon in Tuesday’s semifinal. But the host Mavericks (18-4-3) responded with tons of pressure — and four unanswered goals — to eliminate the Lancers (16-5-3) by a 4-1 score.

Elena Aguilar scored Hilltop’s goal on a first-half counter-attack. LCC received two goals from Genesis Lucero (her first tied the game at a goal apiece at halftime) and single markers from Hayley Mayne and Kallie Kampfl.

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