In a huge playoff upset, Beckman ended Capistrano Valley’s 17-game winning streak by a score of 13-11 on Saturday. They advance to Wednesday’s South Division championship game at Aliso Niguel High School.
13 has been anything but an unlucky number for Beckman during this year’s playoffs. Beckman won last Thursday’s second-round game against Mater Dei by an identical 13-11 score. This time, the same score reflected a very different game. Against Mater Dei, the Patriots were forced to come from behind to pull out the win. On Saturday after the opening whistle, Patriots Shea O’Donnell and Savannah Krause scored two goals to give Beckman the lead they’d maintain for the rest of the game.
Recognizing that draw control would be crucial, Beckman Head Coach Monica Cullinan’s devised a strategy to alternate Michaela Kyte and Lauren Palmquist against Capo’s Riley Eggeman, one of the best draw-takers in Orange County. Kyte and Palmquist brought variety to the draw circle. When one seemed to be letting up, the other stepped in to win some draws. Anytime Eggeman began to warm up to the draw-taker, the second Beckman player switched in to put Eggeman off guard.
The strategy slowed down but did not stop Eggeman from winning a few draws here and there. After Beckman’s two first goals, Eggeman won the draw, made a 50-yard run, and scored the first Capo goal off a crease roll. She repeated the same process minutes later.
Janice Shih and Krause responded to Eggeman’s goal by scoring two of their own to put Beckman back up by two, 4-2. Knowing that Capo relies heavily on Eggeman’s goal scoring prowess, Cullinan assigned Devanshi Mehta to face guard her and keep her from touching the ball. Mehta did her job, and the Cougars had difficulty finding an offensive rhythym without Eggeman’s involvement. “We decided to shut her [Eggeman] down,” said Coach Cullinan, “but they do have other threats.”
Junior Danielle Zahn admirably stepped up for the Cougar offense. She scored two of Capo’s goals before the end of the first half. Otherwise, the Cougars seemed frustrated on offense. The Beckman defense continued their solid play with goalie Claire Duchene‘s help. While Capo’s offense struggled, Beckman’s offense was flowing smoothly. Shea O’Donnell and Tia Thompson won draws off sheer stick skill, and Krause scored several goals with her signature spin move. The half ended 8-5 in Beckman’s favor.
With a three goal lead to start the second half, strategy changed for Beckman to play more “overall defense,” according to Coach Cullinan. That eased the focus off Eggeman. Cougars Alli Ramirez and Journey Fischbeck scored for Capo in the second half, but they were not able to match Patriots O’Donnell and Krause. Beckman kept their lead, mostly by two, for the remainder of the game. With less than two minutes to go, Capo’s Ramirez fed a pass to an open Courtney Smith, who scored. It seemed Capo would be just one goal behind, but the goal was disallowed due to crease violation.
So at 11-13, all Beckman had to do was play keep-away for the last minutes of the game. Despite a proud Cougar fight, Beckman won. Coach Cullinan says a big factor to the Beckman intensity was that “we all feel like we’re underdogs.” With this win, however, it just might be that the Patriots find themselves on top.
The Patriots now proceed on to finals against Los Alamitos on Wednesday.