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Sea Kings' season over

CdM's defense again shines, but San Clemente's Mellem scores game-winner in second half of Division I quarterfinal.

February 24, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com
(Don Leach / Daily…)

SAN CLEMENTE — The San Clemente High girls' soccer team planned to relentlessly attack Corona del Mar.

The Sea Kings planned to counterattack and possibly score on a set piece.

Both plans nearly worked in Thursday afternoon's CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinal match at San Clemente High. Only the top-seeded Tritons move on.

San Clemente sophomore Danielle Mellem scored midway through the second half and the hosts held on to win, 1-0, ending Corona del Mar's season in the quarterfinals for the third straight year. The last two years were in Division II.

Corona del Mar (15-4-5) knew CIF would be challenging, moving up a division. San Clemente (18-2-7) has been a powerhouse in Division I, winning CIF five times in the last nine years. The Tritons are ranked No. 3 in the state by ESPN Rise; CdM is No. 12.

"Sea Kings are wanna-be Tritons" read a sign at the San Clemente stadium. But the proud Sea Kings and their defense led by Wake Forest-bound senior keeper Lindsey Luke didn't give an inch for much of the game.

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Luke made 10 saves and a defense led by seniors Kaylee O'Connor and Hannah Rome, as well as juniors Amanda Stephenson and Sydney Raguse and sophomore Alana Hunter, fended off attack after attack.

"I gave them a quote at the beginning of the playoffs, and it basically just talked about 'no regrets,' " CdM Coach Bryan Middleton said. "Play your game all the way through, play to the game plan and give it 100%. Leave nothing on the field, and you'll have no regrets.

"I told them at the end of the game, 'We have no regrets.' We played to our game plan, we played 100%, and the girls put the work in. Unfortunately, San Clemente earned a goal throughout the run of play. But we left it all on the field."

Middleton also put junior midfielder/forward Ally Brahs on San Clemente's playmaker, Yale-bound senior midfielder Frannie Coxe. Coxe did most of her damage taking the Tritons' six corner kicks, but every one the Sea Kings cleared away. In the second half, junior Brittany Brown got her head on the ball a couple of times to get it out of danger.

But San Clemente Coach Stacey Finnerty saw something.

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