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By Zach Cavanagh

SC Resident Wins ECNL National Championship

San Clemente 16-year-old Malia McMahon celebrates winning the ECNL U16 National Championship with her LAFC Slammers soccer club. Photo Courtesy of Monique McMahon

It was quite a run for the Newport Beach-based LAFC Slammers soccer club and San Clemente High School sophomore Malia McMahon that culminated on July 18 in Richmond, Virginia.

McMahon and the U16 Slammers completed a near-perfect run to the ECNL National Championship with a 2-1 win over Players Development Academy Blue of New Jersey to clinch their age division title and contribute to the overall club national championship for LAFC Slammers.

McMahon is a two-year varsity player for San Clemente High School and earned the team’s rookie of the year award as a freshman, as well as being named a scholar athlete. The 16-year-old is a key part of the defensive unit for the Tritons and Slammers.

LAFC Slammers’ U16 team finished the season 14-0-1, with a plus-47 goal differential.

At the ECNL National Finals, LAFC Slammers U16 posted a 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay United Rowdies in the semifinals before the 2-1 win over PDA Blue in the title game. The Slammers overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit to win the championship.

At the ECNL National Playoffs, Slammers U16 earned two 2-0 wins over Charlotte SA and the Portland Thorns and beat the Western New York Flash, 4-1, to advance to the quarterfinals. The Slammers advanced to the National Finals with a penalty-kicks win over World Class FC of New York and New Jersey.

Beach Volleyball Approved by CIF-Southern Section

Starting in the Spring 2022 season, girls beach volleyball will be a CIF-approved sport, the CIF-Southern Section announced on Tuesday, July 27.

“We are proud to welcome Beach Volleyball this year to the list of CIF-approved sports,” CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod said in his 2021-22 preview message, “and are excited for the growth and development of that sport in the time ahead.”

The next step is for schools to register for the sport in the 2021-22 school year. If 20% of the CIF-SS’ member schools field a team in the sport, the section can hold championships for the sport. Wigod said the goal for the first year of beach volleyball is for CIF-SS to reach the minimum threshold of schools that offer the sport to be able to hold league finals. League finals would be the way to qualify for the CIF-SS playoffs. The first CIF-SS beach volleyball championship would not be held until Spring 2023 at the earliest.

San Clemente High School has fielded a club beach volleyball team, as well as some beach volleyball athletes signing to colleges. The San Clemente girls volleyball team also got some experience on the sand last season, as the Tritons searched for ways to compete amid COVID-19 restrictions. Girls volleyball is an indoor sport, and San Clemente and other Orange County schools found ways to play against each other outside on the sand.

Beach volleyball is contested with pairs of athletes, with each match being a best-of-three sets and each set going to 21 points. Indoor volleyball has teams fielding six players at a time in a best-of-five match with sets going to 25 points.

Zach Cavanagh

Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at

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