One week ago, the Torrey Pines field hockey team finished its regular season with a 2-1 loss to visiting Avocado West League rival Canyon Crest. The defeat left the Falcons 16-5-1 overall, dropped them into a tie with CCA for the Avocado West title and their play against the Ravens, a team they had defeated earlier in the season, was not exactly awe-inspiring. In fact, some were questioning the No. 3 CIF Open Division Championship seeding the Falcons were awarded two days later.
Suffice to say the seeding committee knew what it was doing and the lackluster performance against CCA was well back in the rearview mirror Tuesday night, Nov. 13, as Torrey Pines thoroughly dominated sixth-seed Poway, handing the visiting Titans a 3-0 CIF quarterfinal defeat which could have easily been worse. Busby had a simple explanation for her team’s turnaround.
“It’s the playoffs,” she said, maybe only half-joking. “This is what everyone is pointing towards and we came out focused, playing cohesively and took care of business.”
In a big way. Torrey had 14 shots on goal compared to just one for Poway and a sizable edge (14-3) in penalty corners as well.
“Everybody was contributing, we were moving the ball around and getting some great shots, a lot of them weren’t going in, but it felt like a matter of time with the chances we were generating,” said Busby, who in just her second year at the helm, has her squad in the Open Division playoffs for the second time.
The Falcons definitely made themselves at home in the Titans’ circle and although she didn’t score Tuesday, senior Kristin Bitter, their leading goal-getter in the regular season, was a force on the offensive end, repeatedly putting hard shots on the cage and helping create opportunities that eventually paid off for her teammates.
Sophomore Hailey Dewey put Torrey on top just past the mid-point of the first half. A crossing pass found Bitter to the right of the cage. She drove towards the goal, shot and Dewey gobbled up the rebound, firing it home from close range.
Although the Falcons controlled the first half, they had just Dewey’s score to show for it and after continuing their onslaught unsuccessfully for the 14 minutes following the interval, it seemed possible that with Poway hanging around, it was still anybody’s game.
That concept ended with 15:39 to go when a penalty corner was entered to Bitter on the right side of the goal. She rifled a hard shot and this time it eventually found its way onto the stick of another sophomore, Leilani Llamas, and she made it 2-0. Six minutes later, the Falcons got some additional insurance. This time Bitter charged in along the right end line and tried to put a ball into the goal front area. It came up short but was garnered by senior birthday girl Emma Richards-Smith about five yards from the goal. She moved in and beat goalie Gabby Cunnyngham cleanly to give herself a memorable birthday present and provide her team a three-goal final margin.
Next up for Torrey Pines will be Thursday’s semi-finals where they will face second-seeded Scripps Ranch (23-2), a club that handed the Falcons a 4-2 defeat in early September and throttled Westview, 4-0, in the quarterfinals. Busby feels like her team is capable of turning that result around.
“When we play like we did tonight, I think we can compete with any team that’s out there,” said Busby post-game. “Scripps Ranch is very talented but we’re excited about the chance to play them with a spot in the CIF championship game on the line.” Game time is 3:15 p.m. at Scripps Ranch.