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CHRIS FOSTER

Returning With a Vengeance

February 06, 1996|Chris Foster

Pssst, got some inside information for ya.

The best girls' soccer player in Orange County? Easy. Santa Margarita junior Erin McIntyre.

Follow.

The Eagles are good. Really good. The hope-they're- in-the-other-playoff- bracket good. OK, so that doesn't invoke much forehead slapping out there. Everyone knew that going in. They had 10 starters returning from a team that reached the Southern Section Division semifinals, when they were No. 60 in Marina's 61-game unbeaten streak.

But that Santa Margarita team did lose. This one hasn't.

Which brings us to McIntyre. She wasn't out there last season, when the Eagles finished a respectable 22-5-2. She's there now and Santa Margarita has beaten everyone who hasn't appeared on Univision.

It's McIntyre. It's got to be.

"We don't have a dominant person," Coach Chuck Morales said.

Yeah, right.

McIntyre, trust us.

"Just say we're a regular old team," Morales said. "We're not the greatest, but we're doing fine."

Uh-huh. With just a run-of-the-mill 20-0-2 record too.

Her teammates--as talented as they are--were out there last season. Not McIntyre, who missed the season because of illness. There's no denying her impact.

"No, we're just a Podunk team," Morales said.

Then Podunk should host the women's World Cup.

But even Morales, running through his team's roster, comes to the same conclusion.

Goalkeeper Riki Ann Serrins.

"She's very dependable."

Defender Claire Wels.

"Rough and tough."

Defender Erin Beattie.

"Rough and tough."

(Time out for an adjective alert).

Defender Suzie Mora.

"Just delightful."

Midfielder Maresa Zanetti.

"Very stylish."

Midfielder Meagan Lingo.

"A true leader."

Midfielder Crissy Anderson.

"A workhorse."

Midfielder Ami Aylor.

"Nadia [Comaneci], she's so agile."

Striker Annie Luke.

"She's a stud."

Striker Kristen Rowe.

"A bull in a china closet."

Sweeper Erin McIntyre.

"She solidified the defense. She really has a calming influence out there. She's saved our bacon a number of times. So many times, they all run together. There was this one against Mater Dei. I thought it was a goal. Then Mac came in and cleared it . . . "

Ah-ha. So much for the "haven't got a dominant player" routine. Time to 'fess up, Coach.

Two years ago, McIntyre played on the junior varsity. The team was undefeated. Now the varsity is the county's top-ranked team and has been from the first kick.

It's McIntyre.

"She was the missing link," Morales said. "When we got her back, it had a domino effect."

The dots do seem to match.

The Eagles have given up five goals the entire season. Let's see, that works out to roughly 0.23 goals per game. Not being a soccer aficionado, is that good?

There have been two ties. One by today's Sea View League opponent Irvine, on a field so wet players needed snorkels. The other by Glendora St. Lucy's (named after the patron saint of redheaded comediennes?)

It's all McIntyre. It has to be.

The Eagles have five players from the Mission Viejo Shamrocks, the national under-16 finalists. They are stocked with All-Southern Section, All-Orange County and All-Sea View League honorees.

But what they have, that they didn't have a year ago, is McIntyre. There's no other explanation.

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