In the first round of the South Division playoffs, Corona Del Mar defeated Mission Viejo 16-10 on Tuesday afternoon.
With the fire expected of a team that has nothing to lose, the Mission Viejo Diablos came to the Corona Del Mar field with intensity. A crisp Mission assist and goal by Samantha Leyds and Maryn Macha started off the playoff match up, but the CdM Sea Kings would prove to be the finishers of the game.
CdM took advantage of the possessions provided by Sabrina “Bean” Smith‘s draw controls and responded with goals Payton Carter. When the draw control was in their favor, the Sea King offense was fast-paced and urgent. CdM pressed to the goal many times, but often forced opportunities and missed connections.
In contrast, when Mission controlled draws, mostly taken by Leyds and won by Macha, patience was the virtue. The ball was settled and controlled well on the Diablo end of the field. Defensively, the Diablos were able to capitalize on CdM mistakes. Opportunistic stick skills resulted in several won turnovers and successful clears.
CDM Head Coach Aly Vislocky said of her ambitious offense, “We did want to practice patience, but we have always responded on quick offense. Speed is an advantage.” It certainly was for the Sea Kings. The Diablos’ patience conveyed control, but they could have used the time to score more goals to contest CdM.
Shooting space was a huge issue for Mission Viejo. When CdM was awarded eight-meter penalty shots, the Diablos were often called for shooting space by a three-man referee staff. A number of penalty shots were awarded– almost all interrupted because of Mission’s shooting space– and only four goals were counted for CDM. It could have been a smart defensive strategy in disguise.
The three referees played a large role in the game. Coach Vislocky explained that CdM hired three for a “safer game,” but most calls (and there were many) were made to the dismay of a loud CdM sideline.
On the field, Leyds and Lauren Robinson achieved great plays to try to keep Mission Viejo in the game. Goalie Rilee Ringold made key saves, especially on eight-meter penalty shots.
The Diablos were not able to match CdM leaders like Smith, Carter, and Kacey Kline. Besides repeated scoring, the Sea King transition seemed flawless. By halftime, the score was 8-4. The Sea Kings maintained the lead for most of the rest of the game.
It wasn’t until the last seven minutes when the Diablos made a rally. They were able to find some success with draw control. With 4 minutes to go, two goals in two minutes made the Diablos seem to still be in the game at 13-9.
However, CdM finally found their patience and played keep-away for the remainder of the game to win 16-10.
Coach Jessie Papageorge’s was proud of the Mission effort, despite the challenges the team faced off the field. “Not all of us were on the same page recently,” she said. She considered “lack of communication or the sense of ‘wanting it'” were major challenges starting off.
Unknown to the Diablos, Mission actually had an advantage for the first 15 minutes. Two CDM starters, Kendall Mulvaney and Kacey Kline were finishing AP testing when the game started. They came into the game as soon as they arrived.
The Mission Viejo Diablos’ season is now over, but Coach Papageorge’s has this to say of her team: “We gave every team this season a fight. I’m very proud to see how the girls were in the beginning compared to where they are now.”
Vislocky said of the CDM season in general, “So far it’s been awesome. We enjoyed a nice winning streak. We had some losses that actually prepared us for now. Compared to then, we’re a different team.”
The Sea Kings take on Foothill Thursday evening at Northrup Stadium at 5:30pm.