Mira Costa’s Jake Carter had made a crucial read early on in Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Division 2 quarterfinal match with Woodbridge.
“I was reading early that (Woodbridge) was shifting over faster, so we moved the ball around more,” Carter said.
With just over four minutes to play following a Mustang timeout on a man-advantage, Carter saw Woodbridge’s goalie leaning right. Carter shot left, breaking the tie before Mira Costa held on for an 8-7 victory.
Mira Costa (20-10) will play San Clemente in Wednesday’s semifinal round at the Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.
Just over a minute later, Carter was back at it. With Mira Costa on its second 6-on-5 advantage in as many possessions, Carter’s shot skimmed Woodbridge’s goalies fingertips before hitting the back of the net.
“6-on-5’s are tough, because you never know whats going to happen,” Mira Costa coach Jon Reichardt said. “I don’t usually call timeouts, but I did before the first (6-on-5) and it worked out. On the second, the kids stepped up. They’ve grown, and showed me they can do stuff on their own (in the pool).”
Woodbridge (14-4) began the game attacking Mira Costa aggressively on the defensive end. Visibly frustrated, the Mustangs saw their shots hit the cage or go wide before Colin Tournat tied the game with 3:55 to play in the second period.
“(Woodbridge) ran a heavy drop, and didn’t let us get our shots off early,” Carter said. “They had a few guys that were bigger, and they were overpowering us. We just needed to get more movement.”
Tournat added his second goal of the game a minute later, beating Woodbridge’s goalie to his left to make it a 2-2 game. Woodbridge scored with 43.8 seconds left to play in the half to take a 3-2 lead.
“We just started moving more, and putting up the shots we needed,” said Carter on the subtle changes the Mustangs made following the first quarter. “That was the biggest factor that helped s win.”
Mira Costa utilized a zone defense Saturday, something that Reichardt noted was critical in the Mustangs success in 2018.
“We practiced the zone the last few days, and (assistant coach Dave Halushka) and (Carter) called out the plays,” Reichardt said. “It kept the ball isolated for our goalie (Bernardo Herzer) so he didn’t have to cross so much.”
Mira Costa took a short-lived lead in the third period.
After Carter’s second goal tied the game at 4 with 4:09 left in the third, Abby Anorve pounced on a rebound before giving the Mustangs a 5-4 lead with 1:34 left in the third.
Woodbridge bounced back with a pair of goals, one coming with 37 seconds left in the third, and the other 15 seconds into the fourth period before Kai Scarlet capitalized on a free shot with 6:25 to play that made it a 6-6 game.
Despite earning its second consecutive one-goal victory, Carter saw the Mustangs bench maintain a level of excitement throughout the game.
“Obviously, we would prefer more of a cushion, but the bench really gets hyped,” Carter said. “We’re a really loud team. It helps us get motivated, and affects the other team a lot.”
Also in Division 2, Palos Verdes defeated Los Alamitos, 11-9. The Sea Kings will face the either Corona del Mar or Foothill in the semifinals.
In Division 4, JSerra defeated El Segundo, 14-10 and San Juan Hills knocked off Chadwick, 10-5.
“We had a really good season, and making it to the quarterfinals was a great accomplishment,” Chadwick coach Robert Lynn said.
In Division 6, Crespi defeated South Torrance, 16-8. The Spartans trailed 3-0 in the first quarter, but rallied to tie the game 4-4. Ian Baker led the Spartans with four goals.