By Austin Block
This yearâs girlsâ soccer team accomplished what its predecessor could not by winning the Mission League and CIF championships, but failed to recapture the Division II Southern California Regional Championship.
The Wolverinesâ last Mission League championship was in 2008 and they had not won the CIF title since 2002, when they were co-champions.
The team finished 22-2-3 overall. In league it finished 8-1-1 and lost only to Flintridge Sacred Heart, who the Wolverines edged out by one point to win league.
“I think the team easily achieved and exceeded all my expectations,” Head Coach Richard Simms said.Â “I knew we would be good but I didnât realize we would be as mentally tough and as determined as we were.”
The Wolverines rolled through CIF, giving up a single goal in five games and won 2-1 in the final against Beckman on March 6.
They crushed Burroughs 7-0 in the first round, won 1-0 against El Dorado in the second round and defeated Laguna Hills 1-0 in the quarterfinals. The girls then soundly beat Redlands East Valley 4-0 in the semifinals with the help of two goals and two assists by Katie Speidel â11.
“I was always very confident that this team would have what it took to win a CIF championship.Â I really think the playoff success was attributed to the teamâs experience and mental toughness,” Simms said.
“That mental toughness was epitomized by the win at El Dorado in the 2nd round,” Simms said.Â “We had to play on a bad field in front of an extremely hostile crowd and Haley [Boysen â10] had to be rushed to the emergency room after just 10 minutes of the game.Â Despite all the hurdles, the teamâs poise never wavered and we came through with a tough 1-0 win.Â Once we got through that game I really felt like we would win the whole thing.”
In the CIF final, Doni Hunter-Sallustio â10 scored at the beginning of the game and Boysen, the teamâs leading scorer, also scored in the first half. Beckman scored on a header on a corner kick before the half was over to cut the Wolverine lead to one, but the Wolverines held off the Wildcats in the second half to clinch the victory.
The team crushed Belmont 11-0 in its first regional playoff game but fell in the regional semifinals at home to Granite Hills. The team scored early in the semifinal game to take a 1-0 lead, but Granite Hills scored once in the first half and again near the end of the game to win 2-1.
“I just think we were emotionally drained after winning CIF.Â That was our main goal all along and once we won that it was hard to get motivated for the Regional tournament,” Simms said. “I think great chemistry, toughness and a will to win defines this team.Â The chemistry definitely lasted throughout the season but it was the teamâs determination to be champions that I will always admire and remember.”
“Everyone was encouraging but at the same time if you were on the field and you werenât giving your best you heard it from your teammates,” defender Christine Kanoff â11 said. “Everyone was in it 100 percent.You wouldnât step on the field and not give all of your effort.”
Boysen finished the season with 16 goals and 10 assists for 42 points, Katie Speidel â11 collected 10 goals and 10 assists for 30 points, and Danielle Duhl â12 had 11 goals and eight assists for 30 points.
“Certainly we are losing an amazing senior class and in Haley we lose one of the best players in the entire country but we will return a lot of quality players with plenty of experience next year,” Simms said. “The big question will be whether or not this team can show the same motivation and determination that it takes to be champions.”
Boysen, Sallustio, and Leah Merkle â10 were the team captains.
“We couldnât have asked for better captains,” Kanoff said. “They pushed and when they were on the field they gave it their all every time and I think that set an example for all the rest of the players.”