Torrey Pines advances, Canyon Crest denied in CIF field hockey semi-finals
Powered by a big defensive stop and a late goal, the third-seeded Torrey Pines field hockey team is ticketed for its first CIF final since 2016 after downing No. 7 seed Poway, 1-0, in the CIF Open Division semi-final Thursday night, Nov. 18. Torrey, which has previously captured four field hockey banners but none in the recently inaugurated Open Division, will face defending champion and No. 1-seeded Scripps Ranch in the Saturday, Nov. 20 title clash at Hilltop High School in Chula Vista. Start time is 4 p.m.
Thursday’s result, the Falcons’ 12th victory in a row and 11th in 12 tries at home, did not come easy. “It was back-and-forth all night and could have been anyone’s game,” said third-year Torrey Pines Head Coach Courtney Spleen. “It was really hard fought and we struggled early—I think there were some nerves on our part.”
A taut, scoreless battle seemed ready to turn in Poway’s favor near the close of the third quarter when the Titans were awarded a penalty stroke. But Falcon junior goalie Bella Anfuso, living up to her big play reputation, rejected the penalty shot to keep it all zeroes.
With just six minutes to go in regulation, Torrey Pines got its opportunity and cashed in. Senior Grace Vargo entered a penalty corner to sophomore Sophie Rosenblum who passed to junior Smilla Klas. Klas put a shot on goal that was re-directed by Vargo for the game-winner.
“We were a little frantic at first but took command in the second quarter and were knocking on the door most of the night,” said Spleen. “It was good to get past this point and our girls are super excited. We’ll be ready Saturday.”
Meanwhile, one bad break and one “bad” quarter did in Canyon Crest Academy in a 2-1 loss to top-seeded Scripps Ranch Thursday night. The visiting fifth-seeded Ravens, who earned their semi-final berth by knocking off Avocado West rival San Marcos in Tuesday’s quarterfinal, more than held their own in the first 15 minutes. Stunningly, that early effort was overturned when SR senior Alyson Turfler emerged from a front-of-the-cage scrum to score an “extra time” goal, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead at the end of the quarter.
That seemed to give Scripps Ranch a lift and put CCA on its heels. The Falcons played the game in the Raven end for virtually all of the first five minutes of the second quarter and were threatening the Raven goal with regularity. They finally broke through at 8:13 when junior Kaelynn Del Monte found the back of the cage to make it a two-goal lead and position Scripps Ranch to potentially put things out of reach.
CCA Head Coach Kiana Duncan admitted afterward that the conclusion of the first quarter was a key moment. “That first goal was pretty critical,” said Duncan. “I feel like we were pretty dominant in the first quarter, had a lot of really good possessions and that last one kind of effected everybody a little bit and hurt us in the second quarter.”
For the most part, however, the Ravens were able to weather the second period storm and went into the interval down just two. It could have been worse and Duncan’s point at halftime was simple.
“It told them to just go back out there with a clean slate and no matter what had happened so far, make sure they were proud of what they did in the second half.” Her team clearly got the message.
After a tepid third quarter start, CCA began turning up the pressure. After making several dangerous offensive forays, Duncan’s charges finally converted with 4:28 remaining. Clever senior forward Stella Baum, who proved problematic for the Scripps defense throughout the second 30 minutes, found herself in front of the Falcon goal after a nifty individual effort. She put the ball past onrushing SR goalie
Kylee Del Monte and junior teammate Isabelle Panikowski slipped it home.
“I wasn’t necessarily trying to score,” said Baum. “The goalie was right there and the angle was going to make it hard. I just passed the ball in behind her and Isabelle tipped it in.”
Suddenly, it was a contest again with the momentum plainly swinging back to CCA’s side. Several big fourth quarter saves by Del Monte kept the Ravens at bay and the Falcons were not sitting by idle. At one juncture CCA had to fend off three consecutive Scripps Ranch penalty corners to keep the margin at one. There was plenty of end-to-end action in the late stages with CCA, behind Baum, Panikowski and seniors Andie Gately (playing at less than 100% due to an ankle injury) and Hayden Ma, desperately trying to equalize. Showing why they are the defending section champs, Scripps Ranch held strong to earn its berth in the final match. Although undoubtedly disappointed with the final score, Duncan was upbeat following the final buzzer.
“I’m really happy with our team’s performance, particularly the way they turned it on in the second half and showed how we’re capable of playing,” said Duncan. “Scripps Ranch is a top tier team. They’re physical, play amazing defense all across the field and every single one of them is a threat offensively—and we were right there with them.”
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