A rebound goal in a rebound of a season has put the San Marcos High girls soccer team on the brink of a CIF-Southern Section championship.
Sofia Orozco was honored by the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table on Monday as its Female Athlete of the Week after her golden goal in the second overtime gave the Royals a 1-0 victory over South Pasadena in Saturday’s Division 5 semifinals.
“Our program has had an amazing turnaround and these two seniors have been a big part of it,” assistant coach Miguel Vences said while introducing Orozco and defender Paige Ingram at Monday’s press luncheon at the Creekside Restaurant.
The Royals, who had a combined record of 3-25-9 the previous two seasons, enter Friday’s final with a 14-0 record and a 46-4 advantage in goals. They’ll play host to Paraclete in Friday’s 5 p.m. final at Warkentin Family Stadium.
Orozco scored the winning goal after recovering her own shot that had been blocked by South Pasadena’s goalkeeper. She also had a pair of goals in the quarterfinal victory against Marshall before converting one of the PKs that clinched their shootout victory.
“She’s our main threat,” Vences said. “She has 15 goals and three assists. The energy is always there and I feel that a lot of our girls feed off it.”
“The same goes for Paige. She’s our rock in the back and one of our captains. Whenever it gets a little hectic in our back line, she brings that composure.”
Carpinteria freshman Jackson Melton was selected as the Round Table’s Male Athlete of the Week after setting school swimming records at the Citrus Coast League meet in the 200 individual medley (2:08.07) and 100 breaststroke (1:05.57).
“I don’t know what’s in the water, but the freshman class this year are all incredibly good swimmers,” coach Sergio Castaneda said. “He’s one of four who are incredible swimmers. They all made automatic (CIF qualifying) times in their events.
“(Melton) is a prominent member of our relays, too, which is placed second for the 400 free.”
Santa Barbara has two freshman phenoms of its own in Nalani Yim and Layla Szymczak, both of whom have qualified for the CIF-SS Division 3 Championships on Saturday at Santa Margarita High School.
“Nalani is a water polo goalie, and you don’t see that too often where your goalie is one of the fastest people in the pool,” coach Mark Walsh said.
Szymczak, who has been asked to swim some of the longer and most difficult events, will be competing in the sprints at the CIF meet.
“I’m excited to see her swim because she’s never been able to swim the 50 and the 100 freestyles without being exhausted from those other races,” Walsh said.
He said his boys team also has a fast sprinter in Nicolas McDonald, who “swam all personal-best times last week, and he’ll be on our relays for the 200 and the 400 free relay.”
Walsh also noted that sophomore Evan Encell-O’Hara will be part of the Dons’ sprint relay teams at CIF after making big strides during the COVID-19 offseason.
“He hops into the pool and all of a sudden his times are dramatically faster,” he said.
San Marcos High girls aquatics just completed two perfect regular seasons, going undefeated in both water polo and swimming. Coach Chuckie Roth chalked it up to such dual-sport athletes as sophomore Reagan McEachen and Abby Webber.
McEachen’s efforts in the 500 and 200 freestyles helped get the Royals over the hump to win the Channel League meet.
“It’s her second sport — she’d rather be playing water polo — but she does it for the team,” Roth said of his sophomore center.
Webber was so raw when she first swam for San Marcos that she couldn’t keep her goggles on. Roth addressed the situation by quoting from the script of the film “Days of Thunder” in which the Tom Cruise character is assured that the “matched-perfect” tires on his racing car would hold.
“I brought out my son’s goggles — I kid you not, he’s 7 years old — and they’re kind of low-profile,” Roth said. “And I told (Webber), ‘Hey, they’re a real special set of matched-perfect goggles, OK? If you trust them, they won’t fall off.’
“And lo and behold, the girl ended up swimming great at Channel League.”
Webber took third in the 200 free and also helped San Marcos’ 200 free relay team qualify for Thursday’s CIF-SS Division 1 Championships.
Two Dos Pueblos seniors, Caitlyn Robinson and Brittney Gamble, had big meets at the Channel League Championships. Robinson will be swimming today at the CIF meet after winning conference titles in both the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly as well as leading the Chargers’ 200 medley and 400 free relays to victory.
“She’s been a rock,” coach Kendall Kuga said. “She’s been our best sprinter since freshman year.”
Gamble, who “dropped a lot of her time” while taking second in the 100 breast at the league meet, is “one of the most spirited swimmers I’ve ever coached,” Kuga added.
“It’s been really fun to watch her in the pool with the other kids,” she said. “She’s a great role model.”
A pair of seniors — Will Trautwein and Henry Manfredonia — have helped put San Marcos High into a first-place tie with Santa Barbara entering this week’s two-game series with third-place Dos Pueblos. The games will be at San Marcos on Wednesday and DP on Friday.
Trautwein, a .300 hitter, scored the winning run in a game against Lompoc last week.
“If you came to one of our practices, you’d be concerned with his physical health with the way he goes after balls,” coach Wes Ghan-Gibson said.
Manfredonia went 4-for-7 last week and is batting .381 on the season.
“He also pitches and in 28 innings has 31 Ks and a 2.00 ERA,” Ghan-Gibson said. “He’ll be playing baseball at UCSB next year.”
A CIF playoff berth is at stake for Bishop Diego in the final week of its regular season. Tyrone Maho, speaking for coach Pete Stathopoulos, said Nico Sanchez, Dax Donati and Luc Maho have put the team in good position.
“Nico plays the hot corner for us and he’s got a great bat — he bats leadoff, and he’s fast,” he said. “Dax does everything for us. He relief pitches, he sometimes starts, and he plays the outfield. He’s a real fast guy and a great bat, as well.
“Luc is a pitcher who also plays a lot of second base. His bat has been on fire lately.”
San Marcos and Dos Pueblos, both 12-1 in the Channel League, will play for the title this week with games at DP today and on the Royals’ diamond on Thursday.
Cassandra Perez, San Marcos’ junior captain, is finally playing her favorite position of first base after having been pressed into service at shortstop during her freshman year.
“She pretty much does everything for us, and we really appreciate the effort and the guts to take on whatever we ask her to do,” coach Jeff Swann said.
Sophomore MacKenzie Mendoza, who got three hits the last time San Marcos played DP, has also been a threat to Swann whenever he pitches her batting practice.
“She hits the ball so hard that I’d probably be dismembered by now if I didn’t have that safety net,” he said.
Three young players — right fielder Mya Gatzke, third baseman Lucy Plowman and pitcher Lauren Weeks — have coach Melinda Matsumoto excited about Bishop Diego’s softball future.
“(Gatzke’s) work ethic and dedication make her a coach’s dream,” she said. “The team feeds off her energy.
“(Plowman) is the ultimate utility player. She’s played four different positions for me this season and has been able to go wherever we need her.”
Weeks, only a freshman, has pitched all but 12 innings for the Cardinals and leads them with an on-base percentage of .529.
“She’s truly an impact player and I’m proud to see her grow both on and off the field,” Matsumoto said.