GIRLS SOCCER #1 IN THE STATE!
BY DENNIS POPE / CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Maddy Haro scored and had an assist in the second half, and all five Sharks scored in a shootout as Santiago came from behind to defeat Carlsbad, 5-4, following a 2-2 overtime draw Saturday in the Division1 title game.
“I don’t think it could be more picture-perfect,” Haro said. “It is the perfect ending and the perfect cherry on top, and I couldn’t be happier for the team and how they pulled through.”
Santiago (26-1-8 overall) trailed 2-0 after allowing goals in the first five minutes of each half, and it wasn’t until a tactical change following the second goal that the Sharks were able to break through.
“We went man-for-man in the back and played a 2-5-3 and said, ‘Look, if they get another goal it’s just for posterity,’” Santiago coach Mike Fleming said. “We figured let’s take a gamble, let’s roll the dice.”
Haro, who had spent most of the game at left midfield or left defense, pushed up to give Santiago a third attacker.
“We had to come out with full-force, with everything that we’ve got and our mindset was ‘You have 40 minutes left in your high school career,’ and we had to let it all out,” Haro said.
The move was effective as the Washington State commit left a defender in her wake before firing a left-footed shot for the Sharks’ first goal.
“It paid off. I guess we look like geniuses in that regard,” Fleming said. “Had we got scored on people would’ve probably said, ‘Why did they leave them man-for-man in the back? What were they thinking?’”
Carlsbad senior forward Summer Mason, who shredded Santiago’s defense for the Lancers’ second goal, wreaked havoc on the Sharks’ backline with four shot attempts in the second half.
“We still tried to keep going. We have so much speed and we try to beat people that way,” Carlsbad coach Carl Higham said. “We had the space, but we couldn’t make them pay.”
With only two defenders and Santiago chasing an equalizer, Mason forced saves fromPaige Simoneau in the 69th and 70th minutes, but the Sharks held firm and eschewed a decisive counter-attack.
Building from the back with less than five minutes remaining, Haro received the ball on the left wing and beat her defender again before crossing it in front the goal mouth where Katie Jones was the last Shark to get a touch before it crossed the goal line.
“Katie placed it perfectly and it was either going to get there or they were, and their girl tapped it in for us,” Haro said.
Jill Olguin nearly netted the game-winner in the fourth minute of overtime, but Carlsbad’s Alison Casey made a sprawling save to keep it knotted and send it to kicks.
Caitlyn McCarthy scored first for Carlsbad (20-5-1), but Mason’s miss – wide right – proved to be the difference.
“It’s hard for us because we went 2-nil up,” Higham said. “Full credit to them; We couldn’t finish them off.”
Jones, Carly Gamble, Raven Sweeney, Haro and Olguin converted from the spot for Santiago, which finished 4 of 4 in shootouts this postseason.
“Kicks used to (stink) after losing to (Riverside) King in the (2010 CIF-SS) finals, but this team, there’s just something about them. They’re calm, and if they’re nervous they never showed it” Fleming said.
Santiago played for a second consecutive game without seniors Alyssa Alvarez andTaylor Romaine and sophomore Emily Gerlbach. All three suffered season-ending injuries – Romaine and Gehlback concussions – in the Sharks’ regional quarterfinal victory.
“It was tough. It was really tough to see our girls go down (and) see and ambulance pull up. It was heart-breaking,” Haro said. “Our motivation from there on out was we were going to play for them. We had to bring it back for them.”