Women's Soccer Goes Down In Shootouts

After their arguably best season in program history, the Santa Monica Corsairs Women's Soccer team would fall one goal short of advancing in the Southern Regional Playoffs.

It was a tightly contested battle between the Corsairs and the Orange Coast Pirates at Orange Coast College this Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 in Costa Mesa, Calif.

The game started with the Pirates jumping out in front with a 1-0 lead at the 23rd minute of the first leg of the match. The Corsairs responded with midfielder Josseline Espinoza took advantage of scramble in front of the net, which was set up by Chrystal Dorado from out in front of the box.

The Pirates scored a goal in the second leg, but was ruled offside, keeping the game 1-1. Both teams showed great effort, with Corsair striker driving into enemy territory, teammates creating chances for one another, and the whole team putting tremendous amount of pressure against the opposition. At one particular moment, the Corsairs drove down field and had a chance to take the lead, but missed the top corner by about three feet over the net.

The crowd was electric down the stretch in the second leg. Neither team was willing to give up in this game, and Corsairs goalkeeper, Emma Romero, made key crucial saves in the second leg to keep the game tied. The game would be sent to overtime, and neither team could break the scoreless tie as defense for both teams tightened up for 30-minutes of play.

That was when the game was sent to penalty kicks, where a team sends out five players from each team to have one opportunity for a free shot at the goal. The team that comes away with the most goals wins the match.

Orange Coast started first with a successful shot, while the Corsairs missed on their first try. The Pirates missed the next one, and the Corsairs drove two goals in from Marissa Moore and Josseline Espinoza. Orange Coast added two more goals of their own, making it 3-2.

The game and the Corsairs' season was on the line with Chloe Glueck being the fifth and final kicker up. Glueck kicked to the left side of the net, but the Pirates goalkeeper made a diving stop to knock the ball away to end the game and the Corsairs' season. It was a tough and heartbreaking loss for the Corsairs on their first playoff game on the road after winning the Western State Conference South Division title a week ago.

When asked about the loss, Head Coach Aaron Benditson said, "It's not an ideal way to end the season, but it's not a bad way because we have accomplished so much. And to go out on five shots... I just always hated that part of the game."

Benditson made it clear how proud he was of his team this season "I couldn't be more proud of these girls, they have sacrificed so much to this program, to be a part of this program," Benditson said. "We have so much to be proud of. It could have gone either way...I thought we showed a lot of character on our end to continue to fight...I think we showed well for ourselves today in that aspect."

Josseline Espinoza, who scored the Corsairs lone goal of the game, and a decision in the penalty kick, agreed with Benditson about her team's performance. "We had a great season, going undefeated." Espinoza said. "We lost in PK's but we'll bounce back. I just love the girls. I'm thankful for them, and they'll be good next season."

Finishing with a record of 15-3-2 in the regular season, and clinching the division title which was never done before in the history of the program, are indeed accomplishments that this team will forever be remembered by.

With the season now over, Benditson gave out his final take on the team atmosphere that translated to the success the girls achieved. "We're very family-oriented, we have an opened door policy in our offices, and the girls spent a lot of time together, and they worked really hard for each other. To have that honesty, hard-working, family type of environment I think is gonna bode us well for years to come."