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ORANGE COUNTY * SOUTHERN SECTION SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIPS
| DIVISION I GIRLS

Aliso Niguel's First Title Is Just Devine

March 04, 2001|MELANIE NEFF | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Aliso Niguel forward Kim Devine couldn't contain the tears Saturday night after helping her team to a 2-0 victory over Rancho Cucamonga in the Southern Section Division I girls' soccer playoffs at La Mirada High.

Devine, a senior who is headed to Brigham Young in the fall, scored one goal and set up another in a game she had been waiting to play in for four years.

"Wow. This is unbelievable," Devine said. "We have waited so long for this. I'm just so happy."

It is the first title for Aliso Niguel, a school that opened eight years ago, and the first time the Wolverines had advanced past the first round.

Last season, Aliso Niguel entered the playoffs as the fourth-seeded team, but was upset in the first round by Marina. And there were times this season when it appeared the third-seeded Wolverines (23-3-2) wouldn't be a factor in the playoffs. They were hampered by injuries to standouts Stacy Lindstrom and Tessa Baker.

After losing in the second round of the Excalibur Tournament and finishing second in the Sea View League, Aliso Niguel tumbled from the top ranking in the county, finishing the season at No. 7. However, Wolverine Coach Randy Dodge said reaching the final was the team's only goal this season.

"For the past three years we've gotten sidetracked," Dodge said. "We spent too much time worrying about winning league championships. This year, our whole goal was to be the CIF champions and that was all we focused on."

It was obvious from the early going that Aliso Niguel was focused. The Wolverines outshot the fourth-seeded Cougars, 19-5, and did not give up a shot on goal in the second half.

Rancho Cucamonga (20-2-8) had one serious threat early in the game, but sophomore goalkeeper Marissa Welliver--who keyed Aliso Niguel's semifinal victory over defending champion Capistrano Valley--smothered a shot by Kristy Krost, and the Wolverines went on to post their 21st shutout this season.

The Wolverines took a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute when Devine was pulled down while dribbling toward the goal. Sophomore midfielder Lisa Sternberg took the free kick and arched it into the corner of the goal.

Minutes later, Baker sent a perfect serve to Devine, who went around a defender and netted a goal from 16 yards. It was Devine's 23rd goal of the season.

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