The Los Alamitos Griffins emerged victorious with a 16-9 win over Corona del Mar in the South Division semi-finals on Saturday. They now advance to the South Division championship game against Beckman.
The semifinal game was the first time Los Alamitos played the Corona Del Mar Sea Queens. Though CdM had no experience playing them, they did not need a scouting report to know of the reputation Los Alamitos upholds. Los Alamitos has achieved five consecutive Southern Section titles with near-perfect records. In their match-up against Corona Del Mar, Los Al’s high-caliber level of skill was evident from the opening whistle.
The first goal of the game was assisted by Griffin Caitlyn Derry and scored by Grace Schmidt-Beck. Corona del Mar answered back with a goal by Paige Nelson. Sea Queen Kacey Kline added another for CdM, but their two goals would stand as the Griffin’s piled on goals by Derry, Jenny Lange, Breezy Hastie, and Haley Fessenden. Jamie Smith and Payton Carter finally added a third and fourth goal for CdM with just minutes to go. At half, the score read 8-4, with Los Alamitos in the lead.
On the draw, Sea Queen Sabrina “Bean” Smith put up a good fight, but the Los Alamitos Griffins dominated draw control for most of the game. Anytime CdM was able to win the draw, their offense was hurried and fast-paced. Skilled offensive players like Kline often drove straight to goal. Offense was also characterized by some unlucky possessions, where eight-meter penalty shots missed the goal completely, or shots hit pipes. CdM played much more defense than offense, however.
The Los Alamitos offense maintained unshakeable poise and control. The pace varied from calm and collected to zippy and aggressive. Stick skills and offensive movement was exciting to watch. Derry and left-handed midfielder Jenny Lange put on a show. Anytime they lost the ball, tenacious re-defending prevented CdM from crossing the restraining line. On the defensive end for Los Alamitos, goalie Ane Marie Horton made impressive saves while directing a solid defense, led by defender Dom Loney. When CdM was not able to score a fast goal against the Griffin defense, Smith, Kline, Carter, and others were forced to settle the ball and create offense from scratch.
At the start of the second half, the Sea Queens were able to bring the score to 8-5. Los Alamitos’s small, three-goal lead would last till the score was 10-7. After the seventh CdM goal by Kacey Kline, Los Alamitos called a time out with under 17 minutes left in the half. Every time it seemed the Sea Queens were close to overtaking the Griffins, but Los Alamitos would score more to stay out of CdM’s reach. Though it was after some frustrating bad luck with eight-meter shots, Griffin leaders Derry, Hastie, and Lange brought the score to 13-7. It was CdM’s turn to call time out.
The Griffins continued scoring to put themselves ahead of the CdM Sea Queens. The two last CdM goals were scored in the two last minutes, but by then Los Al had already made 16 goals. With the help of their offensive ride and patient possessions, the Griffins kept the ball on their end till the close of the game and won 16-9.
Los Alamitos looks to score their sixth consecutive South Division title against Beckman on Wednesday, and then add a sixth Southern Section championship on Saturday.