Case comes back strong

Daily Pilot Boys' Soccer Dream Team

CdM junior battled back pain to lead Sea Kings to CIF Southern Section Division III semifinals.

March 24, 2011|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza,
(Scott Smeltzer…)

A fractured back kept Mason Case out of action for most of his sophomore season at Corona del Mar High.

A bad back only kept Case out of practice for most of his junior season.

Who says you need to practice to perform at a high level in boys' soccer matches? Coach George Larsen stopped saying that to Case this past season.

Larsen said at no point was Case 100%. Case's back hurt, but he still carried the Sea Kings' offense on his back, helping him earn the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year award.

Nineteen goals is how many Case scored this season. He contributed eight assists, playing a role in almost half of the team's 57 goals.

The Sea Kings needed the production by Case after they lost two standouts after one match in December. Five matches into the season, Jack McBean and Matt Francini left because of club commitments.


Case just recommitted himself to the Sea Kings. They needed a striker with McBean gone. Case moved up from midfield and filled those cleats quite admirably.

Case turned into one of the top goal scorers in Orange County, finishing with the third most goals. The Sea Kings were unable to repeat as Pacific Coast League champions. But it was Case, who had CdM (16-3-7, 6-2-2 in league) one match away from playing for a second straight CIF Southern Section title.

Down the stretch, when Case's back worsened, he performed at his best. Twice in the Division III playoffs, he notched game-winning goals.

The second one came in the worst soccer conditions Case experienced this season. It was wet. It was windy. Case and the Sea Kings were 200 miles away from home.

Case made that bus ride home from Santa Maria a lot smoother. He scored on a volley in the 60th minute, lifting CdM to a 1-0 quarterfinal win.

Case felt awfully good. The Sea Kings were on their way to the semifinals and he was a big reason why. The previous season, he made his way back to the team late in the season and did not contribute as much after dealing with a fractured back.

The back pain has never really gone away, but Case toughed it out and played on this season. The Sea Kings fell short of reaching the section title match, as they lost on the road to eventual champion Paramount, 2-1.

The outing was not Case's best. Larsen challenged him at halftime, but it had nothing to do with effort. Case gave it his all.

"He never made any excuses," Larsen said. "We would love to see him play pain free next season."

If that happens, Larsen expects Case to come back stronger and better.

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