By Fred J. Robledo
Walnut High School girls soccer coach Lorraine Hansen set the table for Tuesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 wild-card against visiting Highland by sporting the bling, wearing all three CIF championship rings from the Mustangs’ three-peat from 2003-05.
“She showed us and it got us going,” Walnut midfielder Nikki McKee said. “It was like an extra motivator to think we can get one of those for our finger too. Forget everything that happened before, that’s what we’re playing for now.” The Mustangs ended what felt like a season worth of missed chances and opportunities by routing visiting Highland 7-0 behind three goals from junior forward Stefanie Catone and two goals from McKee. (to continue click thread)
Thursday’s CIF-SS playoff schedule
All games start at 3 p.m.
Glendora at Great Oak
Knight at Ayala
Sultana at Bonita
Claremont at Quartz Hill
Arroyo Grande at Los Altos, 3:30 p.m.
Yorba Linda vs. St. Lucy’s at Damien
Walnut at Bishop Amat
Cate at Gladstone
Wilson at Beaumont
San Jacinto at Northview
Sage Hill at Sierra Vista, 5 p.m.
La Puente at San Dimas
Nogales at Segerstrom
Ganesha at Garden Grove
Mountain View at Sierra Canyon
The Mustangs (13-9-2) led just 1-0 at half, but scored four goals in a span of 15 minutes early in the second half to advance to Thursday’s much anticipated first-round game against second seed Bishop Amat (22-1).
This season has been anything but ordinary for Hansen, whose streak of ten straight league titles ended this year.
The Mustangs moved from the San Antonio League to the Hacienda and finished fourth, losing four of its last five games by a goal.
Hansen has maintained all along that no team has outplayed them from endline to endline and that once they started finishing chances, it would become contagious.
For a day at least, it was just that.
“We know we’re better than our results have shown,” Catone said. “(Finishing) hasn’t just been frustrating for me, but frustrating for everyone.
“The way we came out and played today is the way we always need to come out.”
Midfielder Amber Marini had the most influence, setting the tone at midfield and finishing with two assists.
“I think now that we’re finally here (playoffs), it just feels different,” McKee said. “The past is the past. We had a great practice before today’s game. We talked out there and went hard from start to finish.”
One thing Walnut has on its side is Hansen, who more than anyone knows what this time of the year is about, regardless of its fourth-place finish in league.
“I was just telling the team there is something special about CIF because these are the games you remember,” Hansen said. “You create all your memories over the next couple weeks because these are the games that matter.
“With us the season has been really mental. We were thinking way too much out there and today we finally surrendered to it and said, ‘screw it,’ we’re going to go for it and see what happens.”
Next up is a dream match with Bishop Amat.
“I think for two years our girls have wanted to play Bishop Amat because they’ve had this great record and so many of our players know each other,” Hansen said. “I want to see it too. If we go out and leave it all on the field like we did today, I’ll live with whatever happens.”