The Metro-Pacific League champion Hilltop High School girls soccer team could not overcome an early own goal in a 2-1 elimination loss to the visiting Del Norte Nighthawks in Tuesday’s opening round of the San Diego Section Division I playoffs.
The eighth-seeded Lancers ended their season at 12-5-1 while ninth-seeded Del Norte advanced to meet top-seeded Cathedral Catholic (20-2-3) in Friday’s quarterfinals.
“I felt that Del Norte was just stronger than us,” Hilltop coach Rene Ortiz conceded after the disappointing setback. “Soccer-wise, we played well. But we weren’t prepared to play a physical team. We had a PK and hit a post, so it still was a pretty even game.”
The Lancers controlled territorial play in the early minutes before the Nighthawks began to spread their wings.
Dom Diller’s long-range shot was deflected by a Hilltop defender into the upper far reaches of the net in the 13th minute for an own goal. Lancer goalkeeper Hannah Teague was completely caught out of position at the near post, as she was not expecting her teammate to attempt to head the ball.
The ball skimmed off the top of the Hilltop player’s head and, instead of being redirected away from the net, flew over the helpless Teague into the back corner.
Del Norte doubled the score on another long-range bomb in the 19th minute off the foot of Carter Hackett. Again, the ball floated into the back corner of the net beyond the outstretched arms of Teague.
Down 2-nil, the Lancers came out in the second half with a creative offense scheme and were unlucky in their attempt to force the game into overtime.
Mary Reilly scored on a penalty kick at the 46:30 mark after being taken down in the box to halve the Del Norte lead to 2-1.
Later in the second half, Hilltop managed to flood the box with a flurry of chances, with the end result being the Nighthawk goalkeeper snatching the ball at point-blank range amid several players after a Lancer shot came off the corner post.
The hosts pushed attackers up in the final 10 minutes and weathered several Del Norte counter-attacks but were not able to successfully penetrate the visitors’ defensive zone.
Seventh-seeded Eastlake (10-5-2) had its season end in Tuesday’s Open Division quarterfinals with a 5-1 loss at second-seeded Carlsbad (16-1-4).
The pairing was a rematch of last year’s Division I championship game in which the Titans squeezed out a 1-0 victory to capture the school’s first CIF banner in the sport.
No. 3 Barons to host San Marcos in Division I quarterfinal match
A stunning seven Metro Conference soccer teams received opening round byes in this year’s San Diego Section division playoffs, including the Bonita Vista Barons, who will host the San Marcos Knights in Friday’s Division I girls quarterfinal match.
Kick-off is 3:30 p.m.
The Metro-Mesa League champion Barons (17-3-2) are seeded third in the division; San Marcos, the No. 6 seed, advanced to meet Bonita Vista with a 1-0 victory against 11th-seeded Point Loma on Tuesday.
The Knights are 11-4-4 overall.
The Barons are riding the momentum of an 8-0 run in league play, including a tense 1-0 win over east side rival Otay Ranch in last Friday’s regular season finale.
Sophomore Nikki Miranda scored the lone goal in that key victory, assisted by Pascale Dumesnil, while the goalkeeping tandem of Madison McFarland and Amber White combined for nine saves to post the shutout.
Senior Jennifer Ballez tops the BVHS scoring chart in 2013-14 with 15 goals and 14 assists, followed by Amanda Castillo with 12 goals and six assists and Dumesnil with seven goals and 12 assists.
The Barons have recorded 16 shutout victories this season.
Among Metro girls teams, Southwest (16-5) received the No. 2 seed in Division IV and an opening-round bye.
Among Metro boys teams, Southwest (15-2-4) received the No. 2 seed in Division I, Castle Park (12-5-4) received the No. 4 seed in Division II, Eastlake (12-6-4) received the No. 2 seed in Division III, Sweetwater (11-7-3) received the No. 4 seed in Division III and San Ysidro (8-8-2) received the No. 4 seed in Division IV.