YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Title Driven

Abbamonto Pushes Capistrano Valley to Complete Quest


It was a perfect ending to a stellar high school career--Capistrano Valley's Megan Abbamonto giving a piggyback ride to teammate Lindsay Greco, as the two waved to family and friends who hung around in the rain after the game to congratulate the Southern Section Division I champions.

It was also symbolic of a season in which Abbamonto, this year's Times' Orange County Player of the Year and the backbone of the Cougar squad, was finally able to lead the team to the title it had struggled to reach for four years.

"Megans only come to a school once every five or six years . . . if you're lucky," Cougar Coach Jack Peterson said. "She is the foundation of this team. She has it all offensively and defensively."

While Abbamonto didn't score a goal in the championship game, her presence in the midfield was key to the Cougar victory. For the first 25 minutes, Abbamonto controlled center midfield, not allowing the ball within 30 yards of Capistrano Valley's goal. The final result was a 2-0 victory in which the Cougars outshot defending champion Claremont, 33-1.

Just another typical Cougar game.

Capistrano Valley averaged more than 20 shots a game this season and held opponents to only eight goals in 26 games. Even in their only defeat, a 1-0 loss to Aliso Niguel, the Cougars dominated.

And it was Abbamonto's control of the midfield that left opponents with little choice but to fall back and bulk up their defense, hoping a chance would come when they could sneak the ball past Abbamonto.

"Megan is the one player in the county that no one has an answer for," said Marina Coach Tino Ray Younger, whose team lost, 2-0, to the Cougars in the Excalibur tournament. "She poses a threat on both the offensive and defensive ends of the field. And when she is on her game, there is no doubt that she is the best player in the county."

Moments after seeing Abbamonto clear a ball and bar opponents from entering Cougar territory, one would look up and find her laying out a perfect chip to one of Capistrano Valley's dominating front-line players. And more often than not, she would then be on the receiving end of a cross from that player, resulting in a shot, if not a goal. She and Greco led the Cougars with 15 goals each, and six assists.

"Megan is absolutely the complete player," Peterson said. "She never gets rattled by anything. If someone isn't getting the job done, Megan will just go do it herself and not say anything. It's like having an extra player on the field . . . her game is at the next level."

Two years ago, Abbamonto's sister, Kim, was named The Times' county player of the year, playing the same position, center midfield. However, Kim Abbamonto was left unfulfilled because her teams failed to win a section title.

But Kim Abbamonto was on hand as a spectator for this year's championship, and said that, although it was disappointing her team never got to feel the same elation, the title was for everyone who played for the Cougars the past four years.

"In a way it kind of hurt," Kim Abbamonto said. "But I was really happy for Megan. It was something she really wanted. They finally had a whole team of great players and they were able to get it done."

Megan Abbamonto next will be taking her game up another level when she joins her sister at USC, where the two will play together again. Kim Abbamonto, who has redshirted her first two years due to injuries, is looking forward to playing with her sister again, although the two could be competing for the same position. But neither is concerned.

"The coach told me they'll make a spot for both of us," Megan Abbamonto said.


GIRLS' Player of the Year

Megan Abbamonto

School: Capistrano Valley

Position: Midfielder

Numbers: 15 goals and six assists.

Los Angeles Times Articles