LCC blanks Torrey Pines girls to take control of League soccer race
In a fitting Senior Night performance, three seniors shared the goal-scoring honors as host La Costa Canyon knocked off longtime rival Torrey Pines, 3-0, Wednesday, May 12, to put itself in the driver’s seat for the Coastal League championship.
The result leaves second-year Head Coach Ryan’s Morissey’s side at 10-2-3 overall and 6-2-1 in league action (19 pts.) with only Friday night’s road match-up against San Dieguito Academy remaining in the regular season. A victory over the Mustangs would clinch the crown.
Torrey Pines, which was one point above LCC on the Coastal table coming into Wednesday’s tilt, drops to 8-3-5/5-2-2. The Falcons play at Canyon Crest Friday but need LCC to trip up in order to win or tie for the league title. With the right turn of events, Carlsbad, 4-1-4 after a win over El Camino, also has an outside shot to earn a tie for the top spot.
A bit begrudgingly, Morissey admitted the triumph was his biggest at LCC. “It was definitely up there with last season’s, 6-0, victory over Carlsbad but this one had a little bit more meaning to it,” he said. “I think the seniors were inspired, we had some quality set pieces and a little bit of luck—good teams always need a little bit of luck.
“Honestly, it was a super unselfish performance by the whole team. We saw everyone tracking back on defense, busting their butts to get forward on offense and being quick in transition—a total team performance that made it easy for the coaching staff.”
It shaped up as a defensive battle but that thought went out the window quickly when the Mavericks netted two goals in the first 16 minutes against a Torrey club that had surrendered just two in its previous eight league contests.
Peyton Galli started and finished a nice give-and-go sequence to get LCC on the scoreboard first. She forwarded the ball to Avery Nicholas near the top of the box and her fellow senior smartly played the ball back to an overlapped Galli, freed up on the right side of the goal. Galli looped an angled crossing shot over Falcon keeper Shayna Ross and into the far side for her first goal of the season in the 15th minute. Less than 90 seconds later, from 40 yards out, junior defender Ryann Cull launched an innocent-looking free kick that somehow bounced twice while eluding the Torrey Pines defense, ending up in front of the goal where an alert Tyla Ochoa beat everyone to the ball and deftly headed it over Ross—2-0 LCC.
“That was the pivotal moment in the game,” assessed veteran Torrey Pines Head Coach Martyn Hansford. “We just didn’t defend it well, didn’t attack it.
“We still had time, but it definitely changed everything for us. I’d like to feel we have enough ability to score two goals in the second half but that created a sense of urgency. We were playing well but goals win games.”
The Mavericks put the proverbial nail in the coffin 11:10 into the second session. Sophomore Raigan Jager was fouled from behind in the box and team-leading goal scorer Courtney Hilliard coolly put the ensuing PK into the upper left corner for her seventh of the year.
Ochoa was pleased with the way her team responded to the significant challenge it faced Wednesday. “Energy is really important against a team like Torrey Pines,” said Ochoa. “They were No. 1 in our league, so we had to really, really bring it to them.
“But, at the same time, we were able to stay calm, keep the ball on the ground, stay in our own game. I don’t feel like we gave into them at all. The most important thing was for us to play our game and not theirs.”
Both schools seem certain to be selected for the eight-team CIF Open Division Playoffs which start next week. With two wins over Torrey Pines this year, Morissey’s squad is well-positioned to get a top four seed and a first round home game. It would be LCC’s first Open Division invitation since 2016.
Ochoa, sounding a bit like a coach, celebrated the moment after Wednesday’s victory but was already re-focusing on the next objective. “It feels really good but after a big, big game like this one, it’s easy to fall back and feel like the work has been done,” said Ochoa. “It’s important that we keep our healthy players healthy, recover well and be ready for SDA Friday. We need to make sure we don’t bring our level of play down.”
Hansford, disappointed but not discouraged, was also looking forward. “It was an interesting game—credit LCC, they have a bit of pace and were able to get the ball forward quickly,” said Hansford, whose team had not given up more than two goals in a game this year. “But I didn’t think they caused enough problems for it to be a 3-0 score line.
“I told our team that now it’s very simple. We can’t control the past but we can affect the future. We’re going to make sure our mentality is correct and get fired up for Canyon Crest. Maybe this was a little reality check. We don’t want to be complacent going into the post-season.
“I’d like to see La Costa Canyon in the CIF Playoffs—it would be a chance for redemption.”
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