Los Angeles Preps: San Clemente High School
Aliso Niguel rallied for two goals in the final 15 minutes to claim a 2-1 triumph over their South Coast League archrival to win the Division 1 title at Mission Viejo High School.
Sophomore forward Dominique Bond-Flasza netted the winner with a little more than seven minutes to go, poking home a loose ball after Ashley McCutcheon's header from Ashley Ramirez's corner kick was blocked on the goal line by San Clemente's Ally Lynn.
It gave Aliso Niguel, from Aliso Viejo, its second CIF soccer crown and ensured its participation in next week's CIF Southern California Regional Championship, the closest thing California has to a state tournament. The Wolverines are fifth in ESPNHS's Fab 50 national rankings.
San Clemente (18-3-7), the only team to beat Aliso this season, lost in the final for the third straight year. The Tritons were making their fifth successive title-game appearance and seeking their sixth championship in 11 years.
“We always play great soccer,” said San Clemente coach Stacey Finnerty, whose team, No. 4 on ESPNHS's list, went 1-2-1 against Aliso this year and hadn't lost since a Mater Dei tournament defeat to the Wolverines in mid-December. “You play against a team that kicks it constantly and [is] physical, it got to us at the end of the game. It wasn't quality soccer, but it worked today. We couldn't keep our quality game.”
Nikki Faris gave the Tritons a 14th-minute lead, catching star Aliso goalkeeper Sammi Jo Prud'homme off her line, but the Wolverines started taking control at the end of the first half, were unfortunate not to equalize shortly after halftime and received a goal-saving clearance from Jordan Ansara midway through the second half.
South Orange County's reputation as the epicenter of girls soccer has been burnished during these CIF Southern Section playoffs. All four schools in the Division 1 semifinals are south of Irvine.
Santa Margarita Catholic (16-5-2) upset top-seeded Corona del Mar of Newport Beach in Friday's quarterfinals, and Nos. 2-4 seeds San Clemente (17-2-7), Dana Hills (16-5-1) and Aliso Niguel (18-1-4) joined the Eagles in the final four.
Add St. Margaret's (16-4-5) of San Juan Capistrano, which reached the Division 6 semifinals, and that's five South County teams playing Tuesday for title-game berths next weekend.
Santa Margarita, from Rancho Santa Margarita, beat Corona del Mar, 1-0, when Taylor Klawunder volleyed home a cross from her twin sister, Kaitlin, in the 74th minute.
San Clemente, aiming for a fifth straight trip to the final, overcame Harvard-Westlake of Studio City on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Freshman Amanda Gerrain delivered the knockout blow on the sixth round of kicks.
Breanne Chilton-Eddy scored twice to lead Aliso Niguel, from Aliso Viejo, in a 3-0 romp over Santa Ana's Mater Dei. Dana Hills, from Dana Point, was a 2-0 winner over Orange Lutheran.
Seven of the eight Division 1 quarterfinalists (and 11 of 16 second-round teams) were from Orange County.
It's a similar story, but different geography, in Division 3. Three of the four semifinalists -- third-seeded Claremont (25-1-4), St. Lucy's Priory (18-8-2) of Glendora and Chino Hills (17-4-6) -- are from the Sierra League. A fourth Sierra team, Ayala of Chino Hills, was five minutes from joining them.
The Sierra League is 11-1-1 in the tournament, the lone loss Ayala's on Friday against defending champion Bishop Amat (21-4-4) of La Puente. Amat scored three times in the final six minutes, with Jamie Peters netting the winner, to pull out a 4-3 victory.