ENCINITAS — Mira Mesa goalkeeper Lisa Malmgren said the blue dye she put in her hair was a factor, but extra time spent in practice probably helped, too.
For whatever reason, Malmgren shut down two-time defending champion Serra in the deciding penalty-strokes round Saturday to give the Marauders a 3-1 victory in the San Diego Section field hockey championship game at Diegueno Junior High School.
The teams played through 60 minutes of regulation and a 10-minute overtime but were still tied, 1-1, and headed to penalty strokes, where each of five players attempts to score in individual match-ups with the goalie. Sara Hallock and Janet Ashworth scored on two of Mira Mesa's first three shots against Serra's Myone Reese, but Malmgren stopped each of the Conquistadors' first three and grew especially confident after thwarting third stroker Brynna Perkowski.
"She had scored against me before," Malmgren said.
With Mira Mesa holding a 2-0 lead, fourth stroker Barb Hansen had to score to keep Serra alive, but Malmgren smothered her attempt to give the championship to Mira Mesa (18-2). Serra finished 17-2.
Because Mira Mesa's colors are royal blue and gold, Malmgren put the dye in her hair "for spirit."
"I really think it helped," Malmgren said. "I was so nervous. I made lots of mistakes in the second half. and this made up for it."
Serra had won nine of the previous 10 section titles and defeated Mira Mesa, 2-1, in last year's championship game. The teams split four games this year; three times the decision came down to strokes.
'It's still hard to believe," Mira Mesa Coach Jean Palmer said. "We practice strokes faithfully, ending each practice with them. When it went to strokes, I knew we could win."
"We just couldn't put away the goals," Serra Coach Laurie Berger said. "We let them come back."
* In the third-place game, senior Lelli Hose took advantage of a scramble in front of the goal and scored in the final 30 seconds as Torrey Pines (13-5) defeated Fallbrook, 1-0.