We are now forever united by a strange bond, the three dozen or so of us who watched last Friday afternoon’s CIF Division 5 girls’ soccer playoff game between San Marino and host Beaumont, contested as the storm of the year unleashed wind and rain and bone-chilling cold upon all who assembled at Don Smith Field.
Fans of the Lady Titans will also remember the final score – a 2-0 victory that propelled San Marino into the semifinals for the second consecutive year after never before having advanced as far – while the Cougars and their supporters probably just wanted to go home and have a good cry.
Senior Alana Hillman bounced a 25-yard free kick off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net directly above the head of Beaumont keeper Melissa Suarez in the 47th minute for the only score the Lady Titans would eventually need, providing a cold dose of reality on a day that was already plenty cold enough.
Six minutes later, sophomore midfielder Mandy Hsu essentially put them out of their misery when she threaded a perfect through-ball to junior Brooke McCloskey, who went top shelf past a diving Suarez put the affair on ice.
McCloskey collected the pass from Hsu and was forced to her left by Beaumont defender Morgan Shugart. McCloskey crossed the ball back across the face of the goal with her left foot to earn San Marino a second consecutive berth in the semifinals.
With scoring opportunities at a premium, San Marino also had the next best chance in the 32nd minute when senior Jordyn Duncan sent a thirty yard cross that whistled past the far post on the wings of the wet wind, which gusted to well over forty miles per hour until midway th
In a development even more stunning than last Friday’s weather, the Lady Titans will travel to San Juan Capistrano tomorrow afternoon to face St. Margaret’s Episcopal High School, who lost to La Quinta last Friday in a penalty shootout but was disqualified when it was learned that a suspended player had illegally attended the contest.
CIF Bylaw 2416 states that a player ejected from a game can’t play or be in attendance at the subsequent contest.
“A player who was ejected from the previous contest, who knowingly or unknowingly participates in or is in attendance at the next contest, will result in the forfeiture of that contest,” is how the rule reads.
“Attendance is defined as being present at the team bench/area, inside a gym, stadium or playing area,” the bylaw says.
La Quinta forward Brielle Leon, who is headed to Michigan State University on a soccer scholarship, was suspended from last Friday’s game after receiving a red card in the second round. Leon watched the quarterfinal contest – played at La Quinta – from a vantage point outside an auxiliary fence adjacent to the stadium.
A fact that was trumpeted by The Desert Sun newspaper, who in an article detailing the high drama of the contest led their narrative by mentioning that Leon “stormed the field at La Quinta High School, running directly toward Blackhawks’ goalie Arianna Rodriguez.”
“Basically, I have tried to spell it out this way: If you are in the parking lot, even if you can’t see the game, you are still in attendance,” Thom Simmons, CIF Director of Communications told The Tribune. “The rule clearly states, you cannot be in attendance in any way, shape or form. I always tell people there is no measuring stick. You cannot be at the site. You can’t be in attendance. She was there.”
This should little matter to the Lady Titans, who would be facing a worthy opponent no matter who, or where the bus took them tomorrow. As it were, the bus will head south tomorrow and end up at St. Margaret’s Episcopal High School for the 3:30 p.m. contest.
“I am very proud of the girls,” said head Coach Jaime Acuna.”The conditions were tough and we had to go a long way but they kept playing hard.”
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