Girls Soccer Wins 8th Straight League Championship!
NORCO – If there was one thing Corona Santiago girls soccer coach Mike Fleming wanted Tuesday night, it was to not let Norco stay close in the final 40 minutes.
It took about six for the Sharks to make sure that didn’t happen.
Senior forward Alyssa Alvarez scored twice, in the 44th and 46th minutes, to pull away and Santiago clinched its eighth consecutive league title with a 4-0 victory over the host Cougars.
Santiago (18-1-7 overall, 8-0-1 Big VIII League) – ranked No. 1 in the HSGameTime Inland-area poll – overwhelmed third-ranked Norco (15-5-4, 6-2-1), avenging the 1-1 tie these two teams played to on Jan. 22.
“We just wanted to work on taking advantage of every opportunity,” said Fleming, whose club outshot the Cougars, 6-1, on frame in the second half, “and not leave them on the field, like we did in the last game.”
From the start Tuesday, the Sharks were a motivated team determined to take the upper hand in what proved to be a chippy match – officials handed out seven yellow cards.
And the Sharks, Alvarez said, wanted to protect their legacy.
“It proves that we’re still the best team in our league,” Alvarez, a Long Beach State signee, said. “It means a lot to us. Eight in a row is a huge deal.”
The early minutes Tuesday were played pretty even, and Norco got two goods looks off set pieces – one a header which hit the crossbar – but couldn’t convert a score.
Santiago took a 1-0 lead when senior Carly Gamble headed in Maddy Haro’s corner kick, which is how the half ended, just as it did in the teams’ first meeting.
But Alvarez and the Sharks then took control, as she scored two counterattack goals, the first on a long pass and assist from Haro in the 44th minute, and the second on a breakaway in which she scored past the charging Norco keeper.
“I kind of came out of nowhere on that one,” Alvarez said. “I don’t even know how it happened.”
The Sharks added a fourth goal on another header – this one by freshman Audrey Basa on a cross near goal from sophomore Jada Talley – and held their defensive ground the rest of the way to post their fourth consecutive shutout and 15th of the season.
‘We came out strong,” Alvarez said. “We knew what we had to do, and we got it done.”
Norco coach Clint McDaniel conceded his club faded in the final 40 minutes and even had them run some passing drills after the match. Despite the loss, the Cougars are still a sure bet for second place, and could draw a first-round home match when the pairings are released Monday.
“To be honest, with some of younger girls, the pressure got to them,” McDaniel said. “And I think our composure kind of went away.
“I thought at the beginning, we were taking it right to them and forcing them into a lot of kickball. We just got a little unlucky with our earlier shots. At the end of the day, it was not our day.”