There aren’t any team sports that get easier when a key part of the roster is taken away, and that’s especially true with soccer.
The Mira Costa girls soccer team is facing that situation now. Midfielder Grace Watkins, last year’s Daily Breeze player of the year, will be away for a while with the U.S. U-18 National Team.
At least for the first night the Mustangs were able to pick up the slack, as goals from Rachel Rosen and Ellie Weissenberg helped them defeat rival Redondo 2-1 on Tuesday in a Bay League game.
“The last two games against Peninsula and Palos Verdes, they’ve not really played to their potential,” Mira Costa assistant coach Adam Pomfret said of the team. “We had a heart-to-heart before the game, asked everybody to go back to basics and play to our strengths and we finally did that.
“I thought it was a really disciplined performance. I don’t think we were ever really in trouble. Maybe 10 minutes in the second half where we got a little out of sorts, but overall I felt we were pretty dominant in the game.”
The Sea Hawks (9-2-1, 3-1-1) got on the board midway through the second half as Megan Sweeney scored from the left wing.
From there, Redondo tried to find the tying goal, but was unable to break down the defense for Mira Costa (15-1, 3-1).
“I think at first, we were a little frantic, but we kept our heads down and kept playing,” said Rosen, a senior. “Our defense was amazing, just barely let anything by, so I think we did awesome.”
Pomfret credited the play of midfielder Sydney Miyasaki for stepping into the void in the central midfield. Miyasaki played a role in both goals for the Mustangs.
“She was absolutely superb,” Pomfret said of Miyasaki. “We played to her strengths. Give her the ball in space and she will hurt teams. Both goals came from her distribution.”
Watkins will miss at least the next three games (Peninsula, Palos Verdes and Leuzinger) and should be back for the final two games of the regular season (Centennial on Feb. 3 and Redondo on Feb. 5).
Until then, the Mustangs will rely on the experience gained from Tuesday’s game.
“It was a lot different,” Rosen said of playing without Watkins. “She is a big player on the field, obviously. She controls a lot of the game and distributes a lot, so we had to switch up our game without her. But I think we did amazing and we played as a team, everyone was involved and everyone did their job, so I think it was a great showing without her.”
Mira Costa won 3-0 when the teams met in the South Holiday Tournament.