Girls soccer CIF Division 5 Champions

Dinorah Acuña, Staff Writer

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The third time was a charm for the Lady Vikes’ girls soccer team as they defeated La Serna 2-1 in overtime on March 3 at Mission Viejo High School to win the CIF Division 5 Championship. It was the girls’ third trip to the final match, having lost in 2008 against Oaks Christian and in 2011 in penalties against Desert Christian.

Downey entered the championship game as the underdog due to the fact that they were a relatively new team with only five returning players and lost various times throughout their season. La Serna, on the other hand, appeared to be the favorite with a winning streak of fourteen games and eighteen goals scored in the playoffs; this seemed to have boosted the Lancers’ confidence into thinking that the game would be an easy one. But games are not won based on stats.

Before the game, Downey’s assistant coach Brandon Hitchcock read an article to the girls where La Serna’s coach was quoted that Downey had to worry about the entire team while the Lancers only had to worry about two girls from the Vikings. This made it clear that La Serna did not respect the Lady Vikes and not only did the girls have to play for the title but they also had to play for respect.

“You’ve earned to be here, now you have to earn to win that title,” assistant coach Hitchcock said to the girls.

With that said, Coach Godfrey and Assistant Coach Hitchcock had to motivate the girls and get them pumped up for the game.

“You guys are strong; you guys are legendary,” Coach Rachel Godfrey said to the soccer team.

She continued by telling the girls that they had to dig deep, push themselves to the limit and to play with their hearts. This was enough to get the girls focused and pumped up for the championship game.

The time finally came for the game to start and La Serna was eager to score. They were able to quickly gain control of the ball and were controlling the match. Throughout the first forty minutes of the game, the Lancers continuously created chances to score but were unable to finish. The main reason behind this was Downey’s strong defensive line made up of Alexandria Oropeza 12, Maritza Acuña 10, Andrea Rodriguez 12, and Denisse Quan, 11.

“I knew my defense could easily shut down their offense,” goalkeeper Adrianna 11, said.

The Lady Vikes were unable to generate pressure until the final ten minutes of the first half, but they were still unsuccessful in making any goals.

In the second half, Downey began to pass the ball more and generate plays more frequently. Three minutes into the half, midfielder Claudia Lopez had an opportunity outside the box but it was stopped by La Serna’s keeper. The Vikings continued to control possession of the ball and put pressure on their opponents’ defense.

Three minutes later, midfielder Janeth Acuña passed the ball to Lopez and made a shot about forty yards out. This time, the Lancers’ goalie was unable to block the shot and the ball made its way under the crossbar, giving Downey a 1-0 lead.

The game was then going back and forth, with both teams generating plays. Although La Serna had several opportunities to even up the game, they had the same luck as in the first half and were still unable to score. It was not until there were ten minutes left in the game that the Lancers were able to tie and send the game into overtime.

Halfway through the first overtime, a long throw in was made by Downey; La Serna’s defense let the ball roll into the box for their goalie. But as the keeper was approaching to get the ball, Janeth Acuña caught the entire back line by surprise and easily took the ball away and kicked it into the net for the golden goal to defeat La Serna 2-1.

“It all happened so quickly, but as soon at I saw the opportunity to score, I did,” Janeth, 10, said, “Once I saw the ball go in I ran to hug my teammates and celebrate that we were finally CIF Champs!”

With this win, Downey not only claimed the school’s first girls soccer CIF Championship, but also for the entire school district. They also qualified for the Southern California Regional but lost in the first game against Carlsbad, a Division 1 team, on March 6. Nevertheless, the girls have definitely had a memorable season and have proven that they are the best in their division.