In between the third and fourth quarters of Wednesday’s Channel League Tournament title match, a parent from behind the goal shouted, “It’s Miller time!”
Cassidy Miller turned her head, smiled slightly and made the fan look awfully smart.
The San Marcos senior netted two critical goals as the Royals staved off an upstart Santa Barbara High squad, 5-4, to win the tournament and finish league play unbeaten.
“Whenever you play a team like (Santa Barbara), where we practice with them (Santa Barbara players) all the time in club, we just know each other very well, and I think that always just makes it a lot closer,” Miller said.
Trailing 2-1 with time winding down in the third quarter, Santa Barbara’s Juju Martinez do amaral scored on a long shot to knot the game.
Just 18 seconds later, Miller scored from distance to help the Royals regain a lead that they would never relinquish.
“We did get a lot of momentum on that and that’s always good. It’s tough when the other team has momentum so that helped us get back on track and it still was a close game but we were able to pull it out in the end,” Miller said.
San Marcos senior Hannah Meyer also had two goals for the Royals.
“They’re both two of the best players in the country in high school so they can do that whenever they want,” San Marcos coach Chuckie Roth said. “We have several of them it shows they can do it so they just have to be willing to shoot a little early in the shot clock.”
Santa Barbara head coach Mark Walsh feared that Tuesday’s four-overtime thriller for the Dons would cause his team to tire as the game went on, but that never came to fruition.
“Last time we played them, it was not that close. They won by four or five and we played an hour and a half of water polo against DP yesterday and they didn’t play one minute and they are more conditioned then we are so I was just really afraid it could get ugly fast,” Walsh said. “But, (goalie) Faith Tedesco had a really great game, she kept us close and we were able to keep getting back just enough and kept it low scoring enough to give ourselves a chance. They are the No. 3 team in CIF for a reason, they are very good and we are not quite at there level but I was proud of them.”
Roth wasn’t surprised by the Dons’ defensive game plan.
“I thought they did pretty much what I thought they were going to do and I thought the game went like I thought it was going to go. I wasn’t really surprised by how it played out. They do a really good job of slowing your counter-attacks down and there’s a different pace to their game so I knew that was going to come but I thought we would have converted a little better in the frontcourt and I didn’t think our power play situation was very good,” Roth said.
San Marcos assured itself of an opening home match when the CIF pairings are announced on Saturday, while Santa Barbara will also partake in the postseason.
While the team’s aspirations are much larger — a CIF title — Miller was content enjoying Wednesday’s win.
“It means a lot. The last two years we haven’t been able to pull through a win so to come out with a win this time was pretty exciting for me as a senior,” Miller said.
“I think this game was really important heading into CIF because taking that win right before CIF is a big booster for us to get that mentality. The next game is going to be super tight and super close and this was an example of how tight it’s going to get. I don’t know who we are going to start off against Thursday but I know it’s going to be a battle and I think to come out and have a close-scoring game gets us ready for that.”