Mission Viejo High School and Torrance met in a girls' soccer match for the second time this season Friday night, the culmination of a season-long struggle for Southern Section preeminence.
For the second time, Torrance outshot Mission Viejo. But for the second time, Mission Viejo won--this time taking the Southern Section 4-A girls' championship with a 2-1 victory in front of 1,000 at Gahr High in Cerritos.
"I'll take it," said Hiram deFries, Mission Viejo coach. "If we were lucky, that's good."
Mission Viejo upset Torrance, then ranked first in the Southern Section, in the final of the Ocean View Tournament in December. Since then, the Diablos have held the top spot in the polls; Torrance had not lost since.
The final turned out as designed: Mission Viejo was the top-seeded team in the tournament, and Torrance was No. 2.
The Diablos, who tied Edison in the 1986 title match, finish the season undefeated at 27-0-1.
"Everybody said last year was kind of a fluke," deFries said. "We had a lot to prove. If we're 27-0-1, I think that proves it."
Torrance, which won the title in 1984 and lost in the semifinals each of the last two seasons, finishes 22-3-3.
Mission Viejo went ahead early, as it has tended to do in important matches all season. Kerri Kennedy, who suffered a mild concussion after a collision with a defender in a semifinal Tuesday, headed in a goal off a corner kick by Susie Davis five minutes into the match, giving Mission Viejo a 1-0 lead.
The Diablos went ahead, 2-0, with six minutes remaining in the first half when Jennifer Gattis knocked the ball in with a knee-high kick from about five yards out.
Torrance trailed despite having dominated most of the first half. In the second half, the Tartars came out scrambling.
Torrance's Shannon Maddock, second on the Southern Section career and season scoring lists, picked up a loose ball about 10 yards out and put it into the lower right corner of the goal, past a diving Julie Hembree, making it 2-1 six minutes into the second half.
Maddock finishes her career with 191 goals, 49 this season.
But despite numerous chances--Torrance outshot Mission Viejo 11-8--the Tartars didn't manage another goal.
Hembree made two particularly outstanding saves to preserve the lead--one on a direct free kick by Julie Jamile and one when she smothered a shot by Michelle Lorentz in front of the goal with two other Torrance players nearby.
"The great keeper play saved us," deFries said.
DeFries said the Diablos being out shot in both matches against Torrance this season was a reflection of the Mission Viejo style.
"We try to work the ball before we take a shot," deFries said. "Most good teams are going to outshoot us. We're trying to work everything from the outside, in."
Dale Walker, Torrance coach, could only bemoan the loss.
"We felt we outplayed them. But we made two defensive mistakes resulting in the two goals in the first half," Walker said. "We shoved them all over the field the second half, but we could only get one goal."
Said deFries: "They had us on our heels and we just hung on. We scrambled for almost the whole match. The second half they came at us awful hard."