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CIF soccer: ’Cats finish their best season

W.R. girls fall in playoff debut

Posted: February 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.

It may have been one game, but it was the culmination of so much more.

The West Ranch girls soccer team entered the season with one goal — reach the playoffs for the first time in program history.

And on Wednesday afternoon at Huntington Beach High School, they realized that goal.

Even though that first playoff game ended in a 2-1 loss to Huntington Beach in the wild-card round of the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs, the Wildcats won’t be forgetting this season anytime soon.

“It’s the first time we’ve made playoffs and they’ve never come close before, so I will always remember this group,” said West Ranch head coach Jared White. “I will always remember this team. And it’s a good starting-off point for where I’m trying to take this program.”

On Wednesday, things got off on the wrong foot for the Wildcats (10-6-5).

After being stuck in traffic, they arrived to find a soaked field, high winds and heavy rains.

That might have wrought havoc for any team, but for a possession-oriented team like West Ranch, it created numerous struggles.

“The weather slowed us down and got us down in the dumps because we hadn’t played in the rain all year,” said senior Kylee MacArthur. “The long bus ride, you’re sitting up for two hours or so, it was just a long day and we were ready, but not ready enough.”

Twenty-five minutes into the first half, the Oilers (8-7-6) struck for the game’s opening goal.

West Ranch goalie K.T. Koury came off her line in an attempt to beat the Oilers’ Laura Lainson to the ball. But the ball stopped in a puddle, leaving Koury in no man’s land and Lainson struck into the back of the net.

The Wildcats’ deficit doubled five minutes into the second half when they gave up an own goal after a clearance bounced off one of their own players and into the back of the net.

“That deflated us a little bit. A stupid mistake like that and we’re two goals away,” said senior Kendall Moskal. “It was building. The refs were all over the place and (White) got thrown out. It was important that those who were on the field kept their composure and did the best they could to play together.”

White received two yellow cards in the second half for arguing with the referee.

“I didn’t mind it,” White said. “Because I was trying to inspire the players a little bit and trying to take some of the heat away. The girls were frustrated. They were tired of getting fouled. Every time ,they were getting pushed. I wasn’t going to sit back in a playoff game and let that stuff go.”

With 10 minutes left, Moskal knocked in a free kick from 20 yards out to notch the Wildcats’ first playoff goal in program history and pull her team within a goal. But the Oilers held on from there.

For West Ranch’s four seniors — Moskal, MacArthur, Koury and Hailey Reynolds — it marks the end of a high school career that saw their program gain national notoriety.

“It was so emotional,” Moskal said. “Where I had to walk off the field and go, ‘You know, this is a bittersweet feeling because we made it to playoffs and I was a part of the team to make history in the program.’ But at the same time, high school soccer has been the biggest part of my life for the past four years. And for it to come to an end is heartbreaking. It’s hard and I don’t know what I’m going to do at school.”


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