Saturday night at Aliso Niguel High School, a big crowd took in two Orange County semifinal games full of great play, but in the end the higher seeds advanced, with No. 1 Corona del Mar advancing to meet No. 3 San Clemente in Wednesday’s OC championship game.
No. 1 Corona del Mar 7, No. 4 Foothill-Santa Ana 5
Talk about getting a monkey off your back! For the first time ever in the playoffs, CdM (22-0) took down the Knights (11-9), advancing to the school’s third OC final in the last four years. Foothill certainly didn’t make it easy on the Sea Kings, though. After some great saves by both goalies, CdM struck first with what was the only goal of the first quarter. The Knights responded early in the second to tie the game 1-1 and scored again to remain close after the Sea Kings had gone up 3-1. Once it was knotted at 3-3, however, CdM turned up the heat, going on a 4-0 run. Although Foothill put up a fight in the fourth quarter, it was unable to catch up.
No. 3 San Clemente 12, No. 10 Santa Margarita 11 (OT)
In a game that was back-and-forth early, Santa Margarita (11-8) seemed to be pulling away from the Tritons (15-6) for most of the game. Going into the second quarter tied 3-3, SM looked to take control, building an 8-5 lead. However, San Clemente struck back and trailed only by 2 at the half.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Eagles had rebuilt their lead to three at 11-8, but San Clemente rallied to within one with some good plays and strong rides to force unsettled situations. With 48 seconds left, as Tritons attackman Jordan Riggs beat his man behind the net, the Eagles keeper made a risky play to come out of the cage and disrupt Riggs’ shot. The move backfired, though, and Riggs dumped the ball into the open net to tie the score, 11-11.
When the Tritons got the ball in OT, they made it count, as a rebound off a Santa Margarita save ended up the stick of sophomore Peyton Garrett, and he put it over the goalie’s shoulder to win the game and complete the comeback.