The Eastlake Titans’ stellar season came to an end Thursday with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Westview Wolverines in the semifinal round of the Southern California state playoffs. The game also served as a rare match-up of reigning San Diego Section champions.
Division I champion 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 Division II champion 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 second 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 Titans had two more good scoring chances before the visitors snatched away the game's momentum.
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 Southern California regional championship game Saturday at Warren High School in Downey againt Woodland Hills El Camino Real (20-4-3).