LB Riptide girls’ soccer team secures epic semi-finals win in monsoon weather

By Coaches Paul Parker & Sophia Parker

Photos by Sean Mulvaney

The Laguna Beach Riptide U12 girls’ soccer team, competing in the 2019 All Star Tournament, secured an extraordinary victory last weekend in the semi-finals against Mission Viejo.

“It turned out to be an epic encounter,” said coaches Paul and Sophia Parker. “Both teams holding nothing back in a see-saw game in what started out as a mild drizzle but soon turned into something resembling a monsoon.”

LB Riptide girls Gonzalez

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Elizabeth Gonzalez drives the ball down field contributing to one of two goals during regular time that led to the shootout

The Riptide team includes local superstars Cailin Mulvaney, Capri Henrichsen, Elizabeth Gonzalez, Ava Steris, Ava Guziak, Morgan Saunders, Payton Taylor, Anna Sandquist, Chiara Berman-Yumas, Aubrey Anderson, Karina Aleknavicuis, and Shaye Bruns.

LB Riptide girls goalie

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Cailin Mulvaney poised to block Mission Viejo’s final penalty shot that led to Laguna’s epic victory

“We went a goal behind in the first half due to a penalty decision against us, but came storming back in the second half equalizing from a strong run and finish from Capri,” said the coaches. “We then started to find our stride and soon took the lead through a long range effort from our central midfielder Elizabeth.”

LB Riptide girls Taylor

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A rain-soaked Payton Taylor clashes with Mission Viejo and clears the ball out of danger

“By now it was a game of endurance, with the field resembling a lake in parts, both teams fully committed to try and get through to the final. With just minutes to go, Mission Viejo equalized and when the final whistle blew it was all square at 2-2. This meant it would be decided by a dramatic penalty shootout.”

LB Riptide girls Karina

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Karina Aleknavicuis launches one of many counter attacks during the semi-final battle

“Each team had to nominate an initial five penalty takers, with the team scoring most winning. The first two players on each team converted and then we fell behind with our next two penalties being saved, so our fate was hanging in the balance. Mission had to convert just one of their next two penalties to win, but one went wide and the other hit the crossbar and bounced over the goal.”

LB Riptide girls Morgan

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A flooded field couldn’t stop Laguna’s Morgan Saunders from shutting down Mission Viejo’s offense

“Morgan had to score for our team or it was all over, but she held her nerve and duly found the corner of the net. It was now sudden death, one miss would decide the tie. The next two penalties were converted for both teams and then dramatically our keeper Cailin saved Mission’s final penalty to send us through to Thursday [last] night’s final against Ladera Ranch.”

LB Riptide girls Capri

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Capri Henrichsen fakes out Mission Viejo’s defender before scoring one of the two goals during regular time that led to the shootout

“There were jubilant scenes in the pouring rain as we had triumphed in the most testing conditions against excellent opponents. We are all excited for the next chapter and, hopefully, prevailing in the final, the winner of which then goes to compete in the Section All Star Champions Tournament in San Diego.”