Corsairs erase all postseason apprehension
There's nothing quite as satisfactory as finishing a long winning season with a brutal decimation of the winless last-place team in the conference. Santa Monica College put an exclamation point on their outstanding season with a 7-0 massacre of L.A. Mission in the final fixture of their regular season last Friday.
Fittingly, sophomore Mercy Tejada led the way in the hunt for an early Corsair lead with a cool knock past the keeper, having been a leader on the pitch for the ladies all year.
It was open season for the home team from that point on.
Sophomore Jennifer Hager put the spotlight on herself when she not only found the back of the net once, but soon after provided SMC's third score when she sifted through the L.A. Mission Eagles' defense and notched a beauty in the top right corner of the net.
The onslaught continued with yet another power-ridden goal off of a blast from Tejada, and the Corsairs couldn't help but squeeze in one last score from freshman Olivia Patterson in the final minutes of the half to put the deficit at 5-0.
But the Eagles seemed to be in a gracious mood this sunny Santa Monica afternoon, and fouled a Corsair attacker within goal-scoring range just before the mid-game whistle.
And consequently, freshman Callie Cattell rose above the rest of the players on the ensuing free kick and headed the ball inside the net for her first goal of the season, closing out the half with a ridiculous 6-goal lead for SMC.
Coach Aaron Benditson liked what he saw in the first half. "It was really, really important to start out strong, to set the tone and to play well," he said.
Blind luck kept SMC from running up the score even further in the remainder of the match, as many players hit the post and crossbar numerous times on superb attacking efforts.
The second half would in fact finish scoreless save a tap-in goal for freshman Gabriella Rodriguez off of an SMC corner kick.
Tejada, her nickname "Mercy" being ironic in this contest, showed no relent throughout the match as she vied to accomplish her three-goal hat trick.
But her best opportunity was squandered after a breakaway was stopped short by a ‘no-call' from the referees after an apparent foul committed by the Eagles' defense.
The game and the regular season ended with yet another goal-scoring smorgasbord for SMC, making the expectations for the upcoming playoff games against top Southern California teams ooze confidence.
Coach Benditson summed it all up nicely in a post-game interview.
"I think we're ready to devote our minds, bodies, and souls to achieving the best we can as a group," he said. "We're always striving to get as far as we can as a group, and I think we're ready to take on this challenge."
The campus is starting to buzz about the stellar season put on by the ladies, as they finished ranked number 14 in state with 11 conference wins, the most they've accomplished in the past decade. And with Tejada and Patterson both finishing in the state's top 25 individual point totals, the all-too important leadership element is more than present in the Corsair lineup.
"It takes expectation, greatness, and a little bit of luck to come out on top in the postseason, and I think we need to mix these three elements to achieve success and represent our team and our campus," said Benditson.
The hype surrounding the Corsairs' postseason opener this Saturday against the El Camino Warriors at home is snowballing, and the ladies are more than prepared to bring home some hardware after a deep playoff run.