If you were one of the players running on the pitch Tuesday evening at Hilltop High School, you were one of the lucky ones. But if you happened to be a fan sitting in the stands under an umbrella, you felt the cold.
In a rare playoff match-up of reigning Metro Conference champions, the host Lancers, newly crowned Mesa League queens, had just a little more heat in their game on a cool drizzly night to post a 2-1 victory against the two-time defending South Bay League champion San Ysidro Cougars in the opening round of the San Diego Section Division II playoffs.
The game ended in dramatic fashion as Hilltop sophomore Mary Reilly chipped a shot over the outstretched arms of San Ysidro goalkeeper Dahlia Sandoval with four minutes to play to snap a 1-1 deadlock.
“I was just thinking we couldn’t let this one get away because I had so many misses earlier in the game,” said Reilly, who notched her 10th goal of the season.
Ironically, the Cougars had two superb scoring chances to go ahead minutes before Reilly eventually scored the game-winner. Both San Ysidro scoring opportunities were set in motion by senior standout Samantha Arellano, who drove the ball down the left attacking side each time with authority.
While Arellano staked the Cougars to a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute on a nicely placed shot to the far post, the visitors were unable to take advantage of the two prime second-half opportunities.
Reilly scored on a quick counter-attack following San Ysidro’s second misstep.
The sophomore scoring star set up the hosts’ first goal to tie the match two minutes after the Cougars had gone ahead. The tying goal was credited to Michaella Murphy on a tap-in.
The fifth-seeded Lancers (15-4-3) advance to play at fourth-seeded Scripps Ranch (16-3-5) in tonight’s quarterfinals (Friday, Feb. 22) at 5:30 p.m.
The Cougars ended an otherwise fine season at 12-6-4, 9-1-2 in league play.
San Ysidro coach Julio Diaz said he was very proud of his team despite tears being shed by several of his players following the game. “We’re only losing two seniors who are starters, so we’ll be a very good team again next year,” he said.
Reilly and teammate Bianca Mora each scored goals in a dramatic 2-0 winner-take-all victory at Eastlake on Feb. 14 for the Mesa League title. It was a Valentine’s Day gift for coach Rene Ortiz.
The regular season-ending victory was propelled by a 2-1 loss to visiting Bonita Vista two days earlier. “When we heard that Eastlake had tied Olympian, 2-2, in its game, we knew there was still hope,” Reilly said. “We were really prepared. We wanted it more.”
The Feb. 12 loss to the Barons snapped a 10-game unbeaten streak (9-0-1) by Hilltop.
Eastlake, seeded second in the Division I playoffs, will host seventh-seeded San Pasqual tonight at 5 p.m. after the Golden Eagles nipped visiting Vista, 2-1, in Tuesday’s opening round.
The Titans are 12-2-6 after finishing 7-1-2 in league play. San Pasqual is 13-7-1. The teams played to a scoreless tie earlier this season.
Gillian Stargensky leads Eastlake in scoring with nine goals.
Barons edge Pirates, 1-0, in CIF opener
In a first round Division II contest in Oceanside, eighth-seeded Bonita Vista eliminated the ninth-seeded Pirates, 1-0, on Tuesday.
Junior Kianna Brevig scored her eighth goal of the season in the first half, assisted by junior Jennifer Ballez (her 11th of the season) and senior Goalkeeper Coco Guerrero recorded her third and fourth saves of the game — both highlight reel variety — late in the second half to preserve the shutout.
Bonita Vista defenders Daria Magee, Lauren Gonzalez, Ballez, Emily Sherman and Woesha Hampson-Medina played tough throughout the game, according to head coach Ryan Marquez.
The Barons (17-7-1) now face top-seeded La Costa Canyon (17-4-2) in tonight’s quarterfinals. Oceanside ended its season 12-7-4. Bonita Vista finished 7-3 in Mesa League play.