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Girls' Soccer: CdM shows heart of champion

Sea Kings score three goals late in second half to stun Northwood, earn fourth straight PCL title.

February 13, 2014|By Matt Szabo

IRVINE — This has been a difficult year at times for the Corona del Mar High girls' soccer team.

The Sea Kings lost the Battle of the Bay game for the first time in four years. In the Pacific Coast League, they seemed to always be chasing Northwood for first place.

Yet, in the span of 20 brilliant, emotional, heart-stopping minutes, the Sea Kings cast all of that aside Thursday at Northwood High.

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The bid for a fourth straight outright league title seemed gone midway through the second half of the league finale. Yet nobody told CdM that. Faced with the daunting task of scoring three straight goals, CdM kept working.

Freshman Hunter Gantos scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time as CdM rallied to stun Northwood, 3-2, to capture that fourth straight league title and fifth in the last six years. When Coach Bryan Middleton called Thursday's win one of the most dramatic in program history, he wasn't lying.

Miranda Stiver scored in the 65th minute and Shelby Brown scored in the 70th minute as the Sea Kings rallied to tie the score. Then came Gantos' goal, which came from the left on a ball she said she was just trying to cross. Her thrown-in from the Northwood sideline went short to Brown, who tapped it back to Gantos to cross. But the ball went into the upper-right corner of the net.

The goal set off a party on the CdM sideline. Members of the boys' soccer team blasted the song by Jet, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?"

CdM's six-player senior class of Stiver, Sabrina Roy, Molly Keasey, Jayden Smith, Makena Look and goalkeeper Kendall Mulvaney was jubilant.

"It was literally all because we did not give up," Stiver said. "Our team, I don't have words for how proud of us [I am] right now. I bet you, 99% of teams, [down] 2-0, that doesn't happen. but we had such good team spirit. Not one single person on the team gave up, and every single person on the field wanted it so badly ... You could just feel how much we wanted it, and we got it done.

"It was an amazing feeling when you realize, 'Wow, we can win this!' There's no going back once you realize that, especially with our team."

This one did not come easy, not at all. The Sea Kings (11-5-3, 7-2-1 in league) came into the game needing to do something no other team in league has been able to do — beat Northwood (5-1-4 in league). They were behind the hosts by a point. A loss or a tie, and the Timberwolves took home the outright title.

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