By Steve Breazeale
A South Coast League title may not be in the cards for the San Clemente girls soccer team in 2013 but that didn’t stop them from playing the role of spoiler against Mission Viejo on February 4.
A strong defensive effort was the key for the Tritons, who shutout the Diablos on the road in a 1-0 victory.
Mission Viejo (9-5-2, 4-2-1 league) entered the game in a first place tie with Dana Hills (9-1-4, 4-1-1), who had a game against last place Tesoro scheduled to take place February 4 at 4:30 p.m. Results were not available at press time. If the Dolphins defeat the Titans, they will be all alone at the top of the standings.
San Clemente (9-5-6, 2-2-3) only solidified their third place position with the win.
Both teams did not get much going on offense until the last 15 minutes of each half.
In the 30th minute of the opening half Tritons junior forward Nikki Faris took the ball from the sideline and streaked into open space near the Diablos box. Faris then shook her chasing defender and found herself with just the keeper to beat, which she did by shooting the ball into the near side of the net to give the Tritons the 1-0 lead.
The Diablos picked up their offensive intensity following the Tritons goal and tried to get one of their own before the halftime whistle. They were met with strong resistance in the form of the Tritons back line defense. Senior defenseman Sydney Fuertes and Kelly Jameson provided important stops that broke down the Diablo attack in the closing minutes.
Both teams had their chances in the second half and Faris nearly broke through again following a long, 50-yard run where it was between her and Mikaela Berger, the Diablos’ senior goalie. Her low, skimming shot missed the far post by inches.
As the game wound down, the Diablos were awarded a corner kick in extra time and got a good ball into the box, but it was cleared out and away as the final whistle sounded.
The Tritons will now prepare for their last game of the year against Dana Hills, which will be at home on February 6 at 4:30 p.m. It will be the second time in two days the Tritons will face a first place team.