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Bears oust young Mustangs

SOCCER: Costa Mesa bows out of CIF Division III playoffs with second-round setback to skilled Riverside Poly team Wednesday.

February 21, 2008|By Barry Faulkner

RIVERSIDE — This Costa Mesa High girls’ soccer team won the program’s sixth straight league championship and advanced to the playoffs for what Coach Dan Johnston believes is at least 10 straight seasons.

But after the Mustangs fell to host Riverside Poly, 2-1, in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs Wednesday at UC Riverside, Johnston said this team may have come farther than the other league champions to reach similar status.

“There were 11 new players on this team and the first few games, it was ugly,” Johnston said. “We looked like a recreation league team. But what has set this team apart is that this team kept learning from its mistakes. With [the players] doing that, we went from a team that wasn’t considered to win league to playing with anyone in the CIF playoffs. It was a group that was fun to coach and it was a wonderful season.”

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That season was nearly extended by a second-half comeback that almost allowed the Mustangs (13-8-3) to erase a 2-0 halftime deficit to the Bears (22-2-3), who came in with 18 shutouts, including five in a row, and an 11-game unbeaten streak in which they had gone 10-0-1.

Poly, ranked No. 6 in the final CIF Division III regular-season poll, used its superior speed to capitalize in the opening half.

The hosts, who defeated Costa Mesa, 1-0, in the Ocean View Tournament on Dec. 7, opened the scoring in the 29th minute, when junior Channing Perea booted a left-footed shot through the Mustangs’ goalie after running down a cross from senior Callie Wilson.

Poly, which has outscored teams, 66-10, this season, doubled its lead in the 39th minute when junior midfielder Dani Pietro received a through ball from sophomore Blair Boone parallel with the right post and redirected her shot into the lower left corner of the net.

Pietro’s goal came on a defensive miscue Johnston later said cost his team the game.

“In the first half, our defense wasn’t working hard enough for position on their fast runners,” said Johnston, who also had plenty of praise for a defense led by junior sweeper Kristina Roche and junior left fullback Dana Gentling.

“[Roche and Gentling] played great,” Johnston said.

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