No. 1 Capistrano Valley defeated No. 16 El Toro 19-8 for their first-round playoff game.
A skilled Cougar team took on an ambitious and upset-minded Chargers squad on Tuesday. Capistrano put two goals on the board early on, but were contested by several following Charger scores. Emily Lackey, Madi Larsh, and Emma Kirker assisted by Megan Bremmer led the offensive Charger push. Fifteen minutes in the score was 3-3.
It seemed Capistrano underestimated El Toro’s intensity. Head Capistrano Valley Coach Ryan Gustafson noted that the team may have “started slow and been lackadaisical.” Once they realized they could not win so easily, the Cougars stepped it up.
Cougar leaders Riley Eggeman, Courtney Smith, Journey Fischbeck, and Danielle Zahn racked up more and more goals to score 13-5 at halftime. Eggeman dominated at draw control, winning many with impressive one-handed catches. Offensive movement seemed effortless for the Cougars. Never did any player stand still. Off of numerous eight-meter penalty shots, the Cougars surprised El Toro goalie Tatjana Russell with assists instead of straight drives to goal.
The Chargers never gave up against the talented Cougars and continued to offer resistance on the defensive end of the field. The Chargers capitalized on the few mistakes made by Capo, and were able to move the ball quickly down the field for a few more scores from .Ashley Glick, Kirker, and Lackey.
The second half was interrupted by a brief scare. Journey Fischbeck went down with a minor injury, which stalled the game for a few minutes. This may have disrupted the Capo flow, because it took a significantly longer time for the team to score the next goal. Journey soon rejoined her teammates. Danielle Zahn and Alli Ramirez scored a couple goals. Before you knew it, the game was over with a Cougar victory at 19-8
The full-game intensity the Chargers brought to the Cougar-country field was admirable. Ashley Glick says, “A lot of girls knew it could be the last game of the season, so we played like we had nothing to lose.” El Toro played from opening to closing whistle as if the score didn’t matter.
The Capistrano Cougars demonstrated much skill and presence on the field. With only seven upperclassmen, the fairly young team seemed extremely experienced nevertheless. Coach Gustafsen accredited stick skills as a major factor. “We fine-tuned passing and catching, especially in tight spaces,” he said. Defensively, “we are a man-to-man, slide defense,” said Gustafsen. It was this defense that held fast against the Charger fire.
Coach Gustafsen says he is “super proud of my girls,” as well as the 16-0, undefeated record they hold. The Cougars look to continue their success against Trabuco on their home field Thursday at 7:00pm.