For the fourth year in a row, the girls’ soccer team’s postseason ended in a penalty kicks loss.
In the past three seasons, San Clemente, Chaminade and Santa Margarita have all defeated the Wolverines in the penalty kick round, and Santa Ana Mater Dei joined that group Feb. 24 after winning 4-2 over the Wolverines in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs.
Due to their dominant league record, the Wolverines had gotten a bye during the first round of the playoffs.
Despite the team’s loss in the playoffs, it won the Mission League by going undefeated in eight games of league play, and it maintained a 15-2-1 record going into the playoffs.
“I’m sad that the season is ending because I miss playing with and hanging out with the girls on our team every day,” Courtney O’Brien ’15 said. “Our team was really closely bonded. The last game was rough because I feel we were capable of going so much farther in CIF, but honestly, it didn’t change my opinion of the season at all.”
In the squad’s final league game Feb. 11, which was also its Senior Night, it defeated FSHA 7-0. Although the team started slow in the first half, it exploded in the second half to put the Tologs away.
Courtney Gazmarian ’16 had four goals, and O’Brien, Talia Wazana ’15 and Courtney Corrin ’16 each had a goal apiece, as well.
Because it was Senior Night, in the last few seconds of the game, Head Coach Richard Simms sent in all six seniors to end the game together.
“We had a phenomenal season and put in consistent work,” Nicole Araya ’16 said. “I think our entire team was shocked with how the season ended so suddenly, but we certainly put up a fight until the very end.”
The girls played the final game of the regular season at Valencia Feb. 14 and defeated the Vikings 3-0.
During the regular season, the Wolverines maintained a tight defense in front of goalie Lindsey Avant ’17, who was a force in goal, letting in only seven goals in 18 games. On the flip side, the Wolverines scored 59 goals in those same 18 matches.
“Our record up to [the final game] speaks for itself,” Araya said. “We worked hard as a team for those wins and goals, and we’re very proud of that.”
Going into the final game, Maxpreps.com ranked the Wolverines 17th and the Monarchs 96th in the nation.
In the final game, the Wolverines maintained an initial lead over the Mater Dei Monarchs after Karla Alas ’16, a constant scoring threat this season, scored in the first minute. However, the Monarchs responded 10 minutes later with a goal of their own.
After the exciting first few minutes, both teams settled in and made multiple clutch saves to make the score tied 1-1 going into the second half. In the 53rd minute, the Wolverines took the lead again when Howard scored from 10 yards out off of a pass from Chloe Castaneda ’15. The Wolverines successfully kept their lead for most of the second half until Mater Dei’s Lauren Markwith ’16 evened the score on a header with four minutes of regulation time to go.
Although the Wolverines continued to take shots, the Mater Dei goalie came through, blocking multiple shots including both a header and a penalty kick by O’Brien.
With one minute left in the game, a 40-yard Mater Dei free kick followed by another header led to a third goal to seemingly turn the tide and put the Wolverines away. However, O’Brien responded with a header of her own off of another pass from Castaneda with only seconds left in regulation time.
The score remained tied during both rounds of overtime, though the Monarchs took multiple shots. The one time that the Wolverines seemed to have a potential scoring opportunity off of a fast break, Mater Dei’s Margaret Schmidt ’15 went down with a questionable injury, only to walk off the field the second the referees called time.
In penalty kicks, all of the first four Monarch shooters scored, while the Monarch goalie blocked O’Brien’s shot in the bottom left corner and Talia Wazana’s ’15 goal in the fourth round to win the game for Mater Dei and kick Harvard-Westlake out of the playoffs and end the Wolverines’ season.
“Obviously the way the season ended was heartbreaking because we worked so hard and were so determined to go all the way,” Paige Howard ’17 said. “But our entire season was amazing because we worked so hard.”
During the second and third penalty kick rounds, both Alas and Tiffany Guerra ’15 scored, but it was not enough to overcome Mater Dei.
The Wolverines’ final record was 15-3-1.
“That last game was insane because it kept going back and forth between us,” Howard said. “And Mater Dei kept fighting back to tie it up, but I was really proud of how we came back in the last minute to take it to overtime, and we didn’t give up. I hope next season we are able to work just as well together [as we did this season] and find that chemistry again so we can go all the way.”