It’s practically impossible for the No. 1 team in the country to be an underdog in its own state, much less its own section of the state. Such was the case for the Los Osos High School girls soccer team, ranked No. 1 in the nation by MaxPreps.com but seeded second to No. 1 Fullerton Sunny Hills in the CIF playoffs.
Carrying the weight of the lofty ranking the duration of an undefeated season, the Grizzlies played the role of underdog brilliantly in a 1-0 victory Saturday in the CIF-SS Division 2 championship game at Mission Viejo High School.
Tamia Hasan scored the game’s lone goal in the 50th minute to begin the first dominant stretch of the game for Los Osos (23-0-3). The Grizzlies later had a goal disallowed but dealt with their own scare as Sunny Hills (29-2) made a final push.
“I haven’t stopped crying yet,” Los Osos coach Mychal Armstrong said. “These girls are such a great group. They deserve this.”
Los Osos had just one shot on goal in a first half that was dominated by neither side. The second half was a different story.
Sparked by offensive catylast Ifeoma Onumonu 10 minutes into the second half, the Grizzlies finally broke the scoreless tie. The talented forward found her way toward the near post before dropping a centering pass right in front of the goal mouth. The pass slipped past teammate Victoria Bolden as she tussled for position with her defender but it didn’t get past Tamia Hasan, who charged the ball and shot it with such force that the hand of recovering goal keeper Amanda Poertner couldn’t slow it down.
“I just came out of nowhere and I had to get in there,” Hasan said. “I didn’t think (the pass) was going to get through, but I’m glad it did.”
Sunny Hills provided it’s own dangerous cross in the 55th minute but Los Osos goal keeper Carissa Christensen, who finished with four saves, tipped the ball toward the top of the box where a teammate cleared it to maintain the 1-0 lead.
Los Osos appeared to have made the score 2-0 in the 56th minute when Aubrielle Camacho, the hero of the Grizzlies’ quarterfinal double-overtime victory, put home a cross from Hasan but she was ruled offsides to negate a two-on-one opportunity with the goal keeper.
Without question, Sunny Hills’ best scoring opportunity came in the 72nd minute when Megan Villascuesa collected the ball deep in the box after Los Osos’ Christensen had come out, but Villascuesa’s shot was blocked by Grizzlies defender Jazzmin Mancilla, who positioned herself in the exact right place at the right time. Los Osos then skirted disaster on the rebound when Alex Ishihara’s shot went wide as she was unable to collect it cleanly.
Sunny Hills, which entered the game ranked 15th in the nation by espn.com and 17th by MaxPreps.com, will undoubtedly lose that standing courtesy of its second loss of the season.
For Los Osos, the No. 2 team in the country according to espn.com, the journey continues in the state tournament where the target will likely return to its back.
“It still is (a burden),” Armstrong said of the ranking. “And it’s going to be even bigger on our back in the state tournament. We want to keep it. We want to finish the season with a goose egg. Because if you drop, it’s not like you’re going to drop a couple.”