Picking up where they left off

After last week's crucial conference defeat at the hands of top-ranked and undefeated L.A. Pierce College, the second-place Lady Corsairs bounced back with a 1-0 triumph against College of the Canyons. With their overall record now at 10-3-5, the Corsairs have the opportunity to polish their style of play as the regular season winds down in preparation for the fast-approaching playoffs.

"Now we have two easy games ahead of us and it was a good win. We struggled in the beginning, but we came out in the second half ready to play and we did well and got the result we needed," said sophomore Brianna Edwards. "Now we are just going to prepare for playoffs and work hard these next two weeks."

The sticky 95-degree spell in Santa Clarita slowed both offenses in Friday's showdown, but SMC has been running hot all season.

Freshman Sarah Barrington gave her team the advantage with the first and only goal of the match when she powered the ball past the Cougars' helpless keeper.

Following the score, sophomore Jen Hager tried to steal a quick second goal to double the Corsair lead, but narrowly missed the post, a relief to the highly concentrated Cougar audience.

The home team fans were disappointed with their team's performance at the final whistle, as the loss caused their conference record to dip below .500.

"I was definitely hoping that COC would win," said spectator and COC student Michael Brumleve. "We had a pretty good season for both men and women's soccer. We could have definitely defeated Santa Monica without a chance, but I guess they deserved to win," he added.

The Corsair offense, usually fine-tuned and orchestrated with sophomore standout Mercy Tejada at the helm, found difficulty connecting in the unfamiliar conditions of Cougar town.

"The weather was really windy and muggy, and the field was made of real grass, not the usual artificial turf," said Head Coach Aaron Benditson. "There were real bounces, and it was hard for the girls to adjust."

But if the offense lacked evidence of an SMC advantage, solace can be found in their stone-cold defense, which has looked impenetrable all season save for their hiccup vs. L.A. Pierce last week.

"[The defense] was definitely awesome. I take pride in the fact that they responded effectively with a clean sheet after last week, when they allowed four goals," said Benditson. "We hadn't done that all season, and I'm happy they took on that challenge this week because good things happen when defense is solid."

The Corsairs are currently sitting in the eighth position of the 16 WSC South teams to qualify for the playoffs. The inter-state regional ranking proves significant because only the top 8 teams of both the North and South Conferences clinch home-field advantage in the first games.

"It's important to us to get a home playoff game for the first round of the regionals, so the remaining two games on our season are crucial," said Benditson.

And with another victory against L.A. Valley yesterday afternoon, the Lady Corsairs need one more win to bring the playoff battle to their familiar, more forgiving home turf.