High School Sports

San Luis Obispo suffers a heartbreaking loss in girls soccer playoff opener

San Luis Obispo High’s Kiley Norkus, right, battles Yorba Linda’s Kammi Koniniec for control of the ball during Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 girls playoff game at San Luis Obispo.
San Luis Obispo High’s Kiley Norkus, right, battles Yorba Linda’s Kammi Koniniec for control of the ball during Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 3 girls playoff game at San Luis Obispo. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

In a game filled with numerous scoring opportunities, the San Luis Obispo High girls soccer team had a tough time accepting how its CIF-Southern Section Division 3 first-round game against visiting Yorba Linda on Friday afternoon ended.

For much of the 93 minutes played, it appeared that the Tigers had chance after chance to win.

And then something happened.

“We fell asleep for maybe just a second there,” San Luis Obispo coach John Clarke said.

That’s all it took, as Yorba Linda’s Hayley Romero pushed the ball up the middle, looked to her left and found a streaking Ashley Webb, who fired a shot from a wide angle and into the back of the net to lift the Mustangs to a stunning 1-0 win about three minutes into the second overtime.

“It was about the team that wanted it more, had a lot of heart and it was up to them,” Yorba Linda coach Greg Aviles said about his Mustangs, who traveled at least four hours for the afternoon playoff game.

“They played a heck of a game against this squad. We were very evenly matched and it was about digging a little deeper, playing from a deeper place and they answered the call.”

It could have gone the other way, Clarke said.

Though both teams finished with 10 shots each, the Tigers had at least half of their attempts on frame. Goalkeeper Lauren Harper made four saves against Yorba Linda, including a couple of nice diving stops in the second half.

Perhaps San Luis Obispo’s best chance at scoring came within the first 20 minutes, when Kiley Norkus headed a cross right in front of the goal.

The header first hit the crossbar, then bounced off the head of Romero, Yorba Linda’s first-half goalkeeper. It again hit the crossbar before landing in Webb’s hands.

“I asked the linesman and he said it was half over,” Clarke said. “At that point, you don’t know for sure. That one situation right there didn’t change what happened. We had opportunities to score three or four goals for sure.”

Aside from Norkus’ near goal, she and her teammates had other chances in the second half.

For example, Norkus dribbled through a couple of defenders in the 50th minute, stopped and fired a point-blank shot into the hands of goalkeeper Kristin Kleinow, who came in for Yorba Linda after halftime.

The Tigers also had shots sail just above the crossbar, leaving them frustrated. But one of the better San Luis Obispo chances happened just right before the end of the first overtime, as Ali Duval took a rebound shot that breezed just past the left post.

And just when it looked like the game could end in a shootout, Romero and Webb caught the Tigers sleeping for just one quick moment.

“It’s disappointing when we were playing so well and we were both evenly matched,” Norkus said.

“At the very end, they get a goal. It could be legit or it could be a not-so-good goal but a goal is a goal. I respect them, but it was a really evenly matched game and we should have finished the opportunities that we had.

“It’s really frustrating. That’s the word I’d use.”

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