When Corona del Mar (13-2) lost by one goal at San Ramon Valley (9-5), the third-ranked team in the CIF North Coast Section, it didn’t really mean much besides the end of CdM’s 36 game win streak. San Ramon is a perennial NorCal powerhouse, and the Sea Kings responded with an 11-goal win over Amador Valley (7-8) in their next game while still on their Spring Break trip up north.
When Corona del Mar fell to St. Margaret’s Episcopal (13-4) on Saturday for its first Southern Section loss since 2011, it also meant little -– for the Sea Kings at least. The overtime loss, which did not bump CdM from its top-ranked spot on LaxPower, was against a strong SMES team that, after beating fifth-ranked JSerra (12-3) earlier in the week, is hoping to win a Trinity League title and secure a home game in the opening round of the playoffs.
So what does the upset mean for the playoff picture? Corona del Mar, which should wrap-up the season with a 15-2 record after playing Marina (11-6) and Mater Dei (3-10) this week, still will be the No. 1 seed in the South playoffs. Seeds 2 through 7, however, are still up for grabs between Foothill (14-4), Tesoro (10-2), JSerra, St. Margaret’s, San Clemente (10-5) and Huntington Beach (11-3).
Foothill should be the No. 2 seed, but in order to secure it the Knights need to win their last remaining game against El Toro (8-6), which traditionally is one of their two biggest rivals (the other being CdM). Despite the Chargers record being down this year, they are riding a five game winning streak including a 7-5 win over Tesoro. The Knights still should beat El Toro, but anything can happen in rivalry games.
The highest seed Tesoro can get most likely is No. 3. With should-win final games against Mission Viejo (0-14) and Trabuco Hills (5-11), Tesoro will be the South Coast League champion. It could get passed in the rankings, though, depending on the outcome of the St. Margaret’s-JSerra rematch next weekend. If JSerra wins, the Lions should be the No. 3 seed and share the Trinity League title with SMES. If the Tartans win — and claim the Trinity League title outright -– Tesoro should remain the 3-seed, JSerra should drop to No. 5 and St. Margaret’s should come in at No. 4.
If JSerra is somehow able to blow out St. Margaret’s, though, and San Clemente can take care of business against Trabuco Hills (2-4) and El Toro, San Clemente might jump St. Margaret’s, making San Clemente the 4-seed and SMES the 5-seed. Or, if JSerra does have a large win over SMES and San Clemente doesn’t beat El Toro, Huntington Beach could sneak into the No. 5 spot if the Oilers can beat Marina (11-6) and Los Alamitos (11-4) to claim the Sunset League title. Assuming the JSerra-SMES game is close, though, Huntington Beach probably won’t be higher than the 6-seed, which will happen only if San Clemente loses to El Toro.
So as you can see, there is a lot riding on the final week of the season in Orange County for everyone not named Corona del Mar. Seeds eight through sixteen are still uncertain as well, although Los Al, Beckman (9-4), Aliso Niguel (10-4) and Yorba Linda (15-1) seem like locks for the playoffs. However, I really don’t see anyone outside of the top seven having a real chance at capturing the South division title and moving on to the Southern Section championship game. And despite the loss this weekend, its still CdM’s tournament to lose.