By Erik Boal, Staff Writer
Posted: March 3, 2013, Daily News, Los Angeles
The team that wouldn’t go away, no matter how many obstacles it faced or how much adversity it was forced to overcome, finally pushed every other program in the Southern Section Div. I girls soccer playoffs aside and stood alone in the center of the Corona High field as champions Friday night.
Maddie Romeo produced the first strike less than 75 seconds into the match, Abbi Williams delivered a clutch header just before halftime and Brittney McKinney provided the finishing touch, lifting Chaminade to its first division title since 2000 and the fifth in program history with a 3-1 victory over defending-champion Aliso Niguel (13-4-6).
The Eagles (20-3-5) ascended from a third-place finish in the Mission League to join rival Flintridge Sacred Heart — the 2011 champion — as the only local programs to capture Div. I girls soccer titles.
“It was just a refuse-to-lose attitude,” said Chaminade coach Mike Evans, who also guided the Eagles to four consecutive championships — two each in Divs. III and IV — from 1997-2000.
“We don’t break easily. We have a senior back line and a lot of the stuff they were throwing forward, we were not going to give up. We weren’t going to be intimidated.”
Chaminade atoned for a 1-0 second-round setback last season to Aliso Niguel, which went on to capture not only the section title, but the Southern California Div. I regional championship, securing honors as the nation’s top-ranked team by ESPN/Rise Magazine.
The Eagles wasted no time asserting themselves in the rematch, with Romeo burying a 15-yard shot in the upper left corner before Aliso Niguel’s defense had a chance to get settled.
After a Chaminade foul in the box resulted in Danica Koos’ penalty kick tying the score in the 26 th minute, Williams shifted the momentum in the Eagles’ favor with six seconds remaining in the first half, redirecting Brittany Solis’ throw-in with a header inside the left post for her fourth postseason goal and the second in as many matches.
“That totally lifted our spirits,” Williams said. “Everyone was so fired up and it gave us so much hope that we could win. We just told each other not to give up and play with a lot of heart, give it everything you’ve got and finish strong, and in the end we won. This is the best feeling in the whole wide world. It’s just incredible to say that we’re champions.”
Nina Coleman, Amanda Shadler, Kelly Hunter and Williams held strong in front of goalkeeper Chinaar Desai throughout the second half, with the absence of Sarah Roberts — attending an ODP tournament — and an ankle injury suffered by Dominique Bond-Flaza limiting Aliso Niguel’s attack.
McKinney punctuated the victory in the 73rd minute when she took advantage of a poor Wolverines’ clearance by gathering a long pass from Coleman and capitalizing on a breakaway opportunity with a 12-yard shot inside the right post for an insurance goal.
“We wanted it so badly for our seniors, especially because some of them lost their parents and we wanted to make them happy,” McKinney said. “We wanted to win it for our school and make them proud by finishing it off. We play the game we love and we do it for the people on our team. We just want to keep playing together in the (regionals)because we’re a family and we don’t want it to end.”