La Costa Canyon girls stun No. 2 Carlsbad, 6-1

LCC's standout senior Lorena Villa assisted on three goals Tuesday.
(Ken Grosse)

Last season, while winning a second consecutive Avocado West girls’ soccer championship on its way to a CIF Open Division title, Carlsbad went 9-0-1 and surrendered a grand total of two goals in 10 league contests.

Tuesday night, the league-leading Lancers conceded six as host La Costa Canyon trampled the section’s No. 2-ranked team, 6-1, in a fashion that was in no way accidental. Shocking, yes. Fluky, no. The Avo West race may just have a new contender.

Carlsbad entered the evening riding a seven-game winning streak and, led by its high-flying offensive stars Lexi Wright and Taylor Wells, had out-scored its opponents, 28-8 over that stretch. Wright, a junior who was last year’s CIF Player of the Year, had scored as many goals this season as the entire Maverick team.

Junior Paige Hays (#8), marking Carlsbad's Lexi Wright, was part of a big LCC defensive effort.
(Ken Grosse)

Well, the goals kept coming Tuesday, only it was the players in green scoring them. Senior Lizzy Teran recorded a hat trick, fellow senior Lorena Villa chalked up three assists and first-year Head Coach Ryan Morissey’s charges limited the Lancers to one goal or less for just the third time this year. He admitted he didn’t anticipate what unfolded in front of him.

“I didn’t expect that, not the way that the girls did it tonight,” said Morissey. “I don’t think anybody foresaw what happened—Carlsbad is a fantastic, well-organized team and our girls rose to the occasion.

“Defensively, we focused on getting numbers behind the ball, tried to keep their big players out of the game attacking-wise and kept the ball as far away from our goal as possible. It sounds pretty simple when I say it out loud but the girls got the tactics spot-on and played with a little something extra tonight.”

If Carlsbad came in over-confident, No. 8 LCC gave them an early wake-up call. Just under 10 minutes into the first half, the Mavericks got loose on a counterattack that sent the ball deep near Carlsbad’s goal line. Sneaky fast senior Lorena Villa out-raced Lancer keeper Jenna McMahon to the ball and laid a nice cross to sophomore Kendra Wagner who tapped it in uncontested from point blank range. For a moment it appeared the LCC players were so startled they weren’t sure what to do—that didn’t last long either.

Carlsbad senior Marisa Bubnis goes over the top for a header.
(Ken Grosse)

For the next 25 minutes play was primarily between the 18’s although Wright blasted a sharp angle shot off the far post that ricocheted untouched right back across the front of the goal. There was a sense in the air that it was a matter of time before the vaunted Carlsbad attack showed itself but any thoughts of LCC backing down were shattered in the final three minutes.

At 2:52, off a throw-in, Villa found Teran just inside the box and after creating a bit of separation, the Mavs’ leading scorer curled a sublime shot just inside the far post and suddenly it was 2-0. Moments later, the crowd was still buzzing when two other seniors connected for LCC, Liliana Medrano heading in a Jayden Scalise corner kick in stoppage time, to send the home team into the break up by three.

“Honestly, it was a surprise at first,” said Teran. “After the first goal I got a lot of momentum and so did our team. The goals started coming easier.

Maverick Head Coach Ryan Morissey.
(Ken Grosse)

I think this was one of the best games we’ve ever played, especially against a team like Carlsbad. I’ve never been prouder of our team and our coaches are amazing.”

Morissey’s halftime message about staying the course clearly found its target. The Mavericks scored 21 seconds into the second half, freshman Jordan Lamoureux converting a cross along the end line, and added another, Villa feeding Teran, three minutes later to make it an astonishing, 5-0.

“I think we did a good job of winning our personal battles,” said Villa. “Staying close, tight to the ball on defense and when we got the ball, expanding and making our chances count in front of the goal.”

Wright headed in a corner that cut the gap to four but La Costa Canyon weathered a brief Carlsbad surge and kept the Lancers at bay over the final 25 minutes. Teran headed home a corner in the waning moments to create the final margin.

“We left the emotion out of it, the highs and lows of the game, and did a good job of staying mentally strong from the first whistle to the last whistle,” said Morissey. “Lizzy is a rock star. She’s an X-factor, like Lorena, where anything can happen when they get the ball.

“She’s a great kid with a great mentality and a great work ethic. She’s a game-changer who can flip a game on its head.”

The win lifted LCC into a first place tie with Carlsbad and all six teams are within three points of each other. Morissey’s club, which had not scored more than four goals in a game this season now has 10 in its last two. So, where do things go from here? Coach and players all weighed in.

“Tonight we realized that no team is unbeatable,” said Villa. “Every week we can play like this and we can beat any team in the league—we can be champions.”

“We just needed a little boost like this,” added Teran. “From now on, I think we’ll be coming in with the attitude that we can do anything—our coaches are always telling us that and tonight shows it is paying off.”

Morissey, while clearly energized, was also the voice of reason. “The momentum we can get from this is huge. I hope this can have a snowball effect and get us rolling in the right direction, ,” he said. “But this was one night and there are a lot of very good teams in our league. Anything can happen.”

Thursday night, La Costa Canyon, 7-3-2 overall, hosts San Marcos while Carlsbad, now 11-3, will also be home, taking on Mission Hills.