LCC girls soccer still eyeing CIF Open berth despite early league stumble
Just under two years ago, La Costa Canyon High School was on top of the San Diego girls soccer scene after earning a 2-0 victory over Torrey Pines in the CIF Open Division Championship game, becoming the section’s first three-time Open winner.
A year later, after posting a solid, 10-2-3, regular season ledger Coach Ryan Morissey’s Mavericks had a realistic hope of defending that CIF perch but a slew of late season injuries left them short-handed in a 2-1 first round CIF loss to eventual champion San Marcos.
Now in year four at the helm, Morissey and his charges came into the 2022-23 campaign aiming to reclaim the crown. Off to a strong start, the Mavs were slotted No. 6 in the CIF’s Division I power rankings (used to determine the eight teams that will fill out the Open Division bracket next month) heading into the start of Coastal League play last week. Following a 1-1 road draw against No. 2 Westview in its Coastal debut, La Costa Canyon absorbed a one-sided, 4-2, home loss to No. 4 San Marcos. That decision dropped them to 4-2-2 overall and caused a slide down to 10th in the rankings.
Certainly, there’s a lot of soccer to play between now and the Feb. 14 start of the CIF Playoffs, but the manner in which the San Marcos defeat played out was more concerning than the actual result. The Mavericks under Morissey have always built around a staunch defense and sound play in goal. Coming into the San Marcos contest, LCC had surrendered only four goals in its first seven games and just two in the previous six.
The Knights, big, quick, aggressive and disciplined, were in command from the opening whistle. At any given moment, they had the half dozen tallest players on the field and played with a physicality that seemed to initially catch the home team by surprise. Just eight minutes in, San Marcos collected its first goal, three minutes later, a highlight reel strike from nearly 30 yards out made it 2-0.In another six minutes, the gap was 3-0 and with 12:15 remaining in the first half, just when LCC seemed to be steadying the ship, the visitors increased their lead to four. Four goals in a mere 20 minutes. Not what anybody was expecting, particularly those wearing LCC colors.
To its credit, LCC came out with purpose after the break, tallying in the second minute when senior Jordan Lamoureux got on the end of a corner kick at the far post and headed it home. The two teams played evenly from there until a Whitney Walker free kick eluded a drawn out San Marcos keeper and senior Katie Toomey, getting in behind, tapped the loose ball into the net. The Mavericks worked feverishly to further narrow the gap, putting the Knights on their heels in the closing minutes, but were unable to connect.
High school soccer (or any other sport), more so than its collegiate and professional counterparts, can be highly unpredictable, containing all sorts of variables—mental, physical, philosophical, outside influences—that simply don’t come into play in the same fashion.
There’s a need to be cautious about putting too much emphasis on something that can flip overnight and Morissey was at his circumspect best in the aftermath of Friday night’s reality check.
“They’re a good team, we knew they were going to be, I mean they are the CIF champions and State runners-up,” he said. “As our players noted when it was over, sometimes you can learn from losing when you don’t get the result you want—we can look at this, learn from our mistakes and bounce back.
“We were missing some key players, we’re going to get some of them back, we got all five of our freshman some valuable minutes and outscored them 2-0 in the second half. We’ll build on that.”
In the team postgame huddle on the field, Morissey laid out some unvarnished truth about what had transpired while simultaneously mixing in his relentless positivity, encouraging questions, prodding his charges to be part of determining the response to this bump in the road while subtly painting a picture of what the path to ultimate success could still be for this team.
“I continue to be very excited about this team,” insisted Morissey. “We’ve got a lot of seniors (11) who have been in this program for four years, created a great foundation and culture, and have been ready to step up this year.
“Friday night it was more a lack of focus than anything else, for a 20-minute period where we were making poor decisions, maybe weren’t as clicked on during key moments. That doesn’t define who we are. We’re as good as anyone or everyone. Every game in front of us is winnable. Right now we’re just concentrating on Carlsbad and Sage Creek.”
There’s plenty to like about Morissey’s roster, starting with the aforementioned defense. The San Marcos outcome aside, the group is ultra-experienced and that’s without junior star Annie DeHaan, likely the squad’s top player when healthy, who’s missed the entire season recovering from ACL surgery.
It starts with “super smart” senior goalie Tyrasoliel Ringdahl, a multi-sport athlete who also plays basketball, field hockey and lacrosse at LCC.
In front of Ringdahl, who was on the sidelines for the San Marcos clash, is another set of seniors—left back Caitlin Rohr, right back Lucy Sardo and the two center backs, Summer Humphries and Morea Juneau. The latter pair are headed for UC Davis and Chico State, respectively, in the fall. Junior Sydney Dobecki is a valuable back-up.
“We’ve always been anchored by great defenses and this is a talented, veteran group, that is continuing that tradition,” says Morissey. “They’re all super hard workers with a team first mentality.”
The midfield features seniors Jordan Lamoureux, the top returning goal scorer from a year ago, who Morissey says, “is a natural goal scorer who tends to pop up in dangerous situations which is nice to have in the midfield,” and Whitney Walker who saw ample playing time as a junior. Avery Baker, a sophomore transfer from San Dieguito Academy, has worked her way into the starting lineup and could be a future standout. Sophomore Riley Platenburg played on the varsity last year and a pair of current freshmen Casey Gomez and Rayen Pacheco have also shown promise.
A team that’s giving up less than a goal a game doesn’t necessarily need colossal goal-scoring totals but Morissey admits, “we need to score more goals, create more, shoot the ball more.” The Mavericks’ presumed top scoring threat, senior Raigin Jager, the team’s leading scorer in the ’21 championship run and ticketed to play at North Dakota State next year, suffered a back injury in November, is still on the bench, getting fit and building strength, but could be back soon.
Another competent hand, senior Chloe Rocha, scored her first goal of the season against Eastlake and accounted for the game-tying marker in the Westview game. A pair of versatile juniors, Cece Egan and Mina Shahri, can both work on either the right or left wing. Freshmen Presley Williams and Skylar Jones are up-and-comers.
In the wake of last week’s results, Morissey knows his team’s margin for error has been narrowed. He also believes his team is battle-tested and capable of handling the task at hand.
“Last week’s results definitely don’t help our case,” admitted Morissey. “We’ve talked about it as a team and know every game is a big one—we cant afford to have bad games.
“The five teams in our league are all Open division caliber so it’s not going to be easy. I guarantee you this, it’s going to be exciting and fun and I’ll put my money on my team every time.”
The Mavericks are back home for Coastal League outings, Jan. 25 (vs. Del Norte) and Jan. 27 (vs. Westview).
Q&A WITH JORDAN LAMOUREUX
LCC senior soccer standout Jordan Lamoureux is the type of player that can consistently be found on any successful team—the type every coach loves. The 5-foot-4 midfielder isn’t a player that draws immediate attention. She tends to fly under the radar but at the end of the day, the sum off all the little things she supplies adds up to something pretty big.
A list of her LCC career accomplishments is noteworthy. It includes four years in the starting lineup, 16 goals, three assists, three consecutive trips to the CIF Open Division Playoffs, an overall record of 36-14-14 and a section title in her sophomore year.
“Jordan’s been a contributing player since day one,” says Morissey, who needs no prompting to provide an enthusiastic accounting of Lamoureux’s positive traits. “She’s the one that connects the team both on and off the field—we haven’t labeled captains but she’s been doing ‘captain-like’ things—a quiet leader and a really good student,”
“Technically speaking, she’s got a great first touch, is skilled with the ball, dribbling or passing, and has good soccer IQ. Jordan’s our leading goal-scorer so far this year and just has that knack for being in the right place at the right time.”
With Coastal League play now underway and the CIF Playoffs just over a month down the road, Lamoureux, an 18-year-old Carlsbad resident, took time to share her thoughts on topics like the ’21 CIF Championship game, her coach and her future.
Q—You were part of LCC’s CIF Open Division championship team as a sophomore—what are your strongest memories of that final game?
LAMOUREUX—I remember that we had a really good team. It was such an amazing experience because of how many people came to watch and support us and the energy that game had. Rushing the field at the end of the game was pure excitement and joy that all we had worked for that season was well worth it. Winning was the perfect ending for the seniors and our entire soccer program at LCC. I’m thankful I was a part of it.
Q—What were your feelings after last season’s, 2-1, CIF loss in the first round and how does that game play into your team’s approach to this year?
LAMOUREUX—It definitely sucked because we didn’t want our season to be over. We had so much more we could have given if our season hadn’t been cut short. San Marcos was a solid team and so were we. They deserved the win but it was an even game and they got the winning goal in the final minutes.
We had our chances to win and didn’t—that’s what makes it so hard. I know that coming off last year, the players who were on that team want to prove themselves. It’s a motivator.
Q—How have you improved the most since your freshman season?
LAMOUREUX—I think my overall confidence has improved and that’s helped make me a better player. I’m a lot more comfortable in different situations. If you’re not confident on the ball, you might start second-guessing yourself and you don’t want to be in that situation. You have to think quickly on the field and that comes with being comfortable with your skills, trusting yourself and trusting your teammates.
Q—What’s it like to play for Coach Morissey?
LAMOUREUX—He is always pushing us to be better players and people. He expects a lot from us and holds us to a high standard. He works us hard and doesn’t let anything be easy. It’s can be tough a times but I think the team appreciates the standard he sets because knowing he believes in us encourages us to work harder and play to our best ability.
Q—What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Q—You graduate this spring. What do you see in the future?
LAMOUREUX—I want to go to a good academic school for college—I’m hoping to get accepted at Washington or Wisconsin.
I’m not going to play intercollegiate soccer in college. I can’t see myself playing a sport with the kind of time commitment that’s required but I’m planning to play club soccer.
I’m really interested in medicine and want to major in neuroscience. I think health is cool and want to pursue a career in that field. I’ve always looked up to doctors and the work they do. I’ve always wanted to help people too. The brain is pretty fascinating to me and some of the classes I’ve taken have increased that interest.
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