Olivia Ortiz could never forget last season.
The San Luis Obispo High School girls soccer team entered the year — after having made a run to the 2016 CIF-Southern Section championship game — with thoughts of another deep postseason run. But they shockingly lost at home in a penalty shootout to Valencia in the first round of the sectional playoffs.
On Thursday night, however, Ortiz’s late goal ended any chance of repeating that disappointment. Her goal with five minutes to play wound up being the game-winner, capping a dramatic comeback in a 4-3 win against Agoura in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoffs.
“That finish, if that’s not an Olivia Ortiz finish, I don’t know what is,” SLO High head coach Brittney Viboch said. “The way that ended the game, that’s who she is.”
On the final goal, her 25th of the season, Ortiz fought off defenders and a calf cramp to put a one-hop cross from sophomore Angie Crozier over the head of the Agoura goalkeeper.
“I don’t even know what happened, it was such a blur,” Ortiz said of the goal. “I just tried to keep it under control and kick it, and it went in.”
All four of SLO High’s goals came after halftime after trailing 2-0 early in the second half.
“I have that drive that we need another goal. I didn’t want this to be our last game because it happened to us last year, too,” Ortiz said.
Earlier this year, Ortiz committed to play college soccer at Cal Poly. Mustangs head coach Alex Crozier was on hand for the game Thursday, along with current Cal Poly player Grace Park, an SLO High star last season, to witness exactly what they’re getting in 2019. Viboch said it’s more than just a player who has scored 41 goals in the past two seasons.
“I have never seen a player in my life just so determined to do everything she can, not only for her team but for the school and finding a way to put the ball in the net,” said Viboch, a Cal Poly senior who played four years for the Mustangs. “She will put her body on the line for this team, and that is something that resonates with this whole squad.”
Ortiz and a core group of juniors and seniors — such as goalkeeper Eislee Sohner, defender Madison Johnson and Amelia Corpuz-Carr — have helped lead a historic three-year run for SLO High, with a record of 66-5-2. This year, that group has mixed with a talented group of sophomores in Bailey Frost, Frankie Phelan and Emma Ruzius, who have combined for 31 goals. Ruzius and Phelan accounted for two goals and an assist Thursday.
Viboch said SLO High will need to shake the playoff nerves that plagued the team in the first half against Agoura and play controlled, possession soccer when it goes on the road in the second round. The Tigers will take on Downey’s Warren High, ranked No. 6 in the latest poll.
“I think what separates our team from everyone else is the heart that we have and how well we play together and how much we want it,” Ortiz said. “I am so excited to be moving on and see what our team can do this year.”