For the second straight day, a top-seeded team outshot its opponent by a lopsided margin and didn't have much to show for it. But this top-seeded team--Santa Margarita--showed enough to survive. The Eagles' defense was outstanding and their offense was good enough in Thursday's 3-0 victory over Lakewood Artesia in the Southern Section Division III quarterfinals at Rancho Capistrano Park.
Ryan Coiner scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season and assisted on Spencer George's late goal as the Eagles moved within two games of winning their second consecutive section title. Santa Margarita (18-4-3) will play Servite Tuesday in the semifinals.
But Santa Margarita Coach Curt Bauer realizes his team will lose, just as top-seeded Saddleback did Wednesday to Long Beach Millikan in the Division I playoffs, unless it starts converting on more of its scoring chances.
"The lack of being able to finish does concern me," Bauer said. "We had some good players in perfect position to score and they didn't even come close. We've mastered the art of creating opportunities to score, which is the hardest part. Now we have to start scoring."
Santa Margarita scored in the 18th minute on Coiner's header, which came off a beautiful floating pass from Tim Pierce. He scored in the 44th minute when he followed in a shot by Pierce that was saved out to him by Artesia goalkeeper Josh Thompson, who was the busiest player on the field. Thompson had 10 saves and he often dribbled the ball upfield, daring Santa Margarita players to challenge him.
The Eagles blasted 21 shots at Thompson, and Artesia (14-7-1) managed only five shots on goal at keeper Byron Foss, who had two saves.
"When you don't take advantage of your opportunities, you have to play perfect defense," Bauer said.
Santa Margarita's defense was aided by Artesia's problems with playing on a wider than normal field. Santa Margarita's home field is 75 yards wide, one of the biggest in the county. Bauer said the Rancho Capistrano Park field is at least 80 yards wide.
"Nobody is used to playing on a field like this," Bauer said. "I think they got tired."
Said Coiner: "This sort of field helps us out a lot. With our skill, it gives us more room to operate."