It was a drought that lasted even longer than the dry spell that California has faced since December 2011.
The last time the Lady Lancers girls soccer team won a California Interscholastic Federation [CIF], Southern Section, championship final was in 2007 in a 3-2, Division 3 win against Mayfair High School — its second title.
Two years later, head coach Jeff Gordon’s team lost to rival Troy. In the championship final in 2012, Sunny Hills had moved up a division and lost to Los Osos.
A year after that, the Lady Lancers lost to Long Beach Wilson.
But just as February 2019 brought several days of rain, showers and even hail to the Southland, so has the month been an eventful one for this season’s girls soccer team, which edged out Long Beach Poly in the semifinals a week ago on the last penalty kick of the game to reach the title round today.
The Lady Lancers (26-1-4) had an easier time capturing its third CIF title against Mira Costa High School’s Mustangs (21-2-3) at Warren High School in Downey, scoring once in each half before Mira Costa scored its first and only goal of the game.
“We knew it was going to be a battle the whole game,” Gordon said after the game. “Thank God we scored early in the first half and early in the second half.”
The head coach was referring to the first point by junior attacking midfielder Auburn Burnett and the second one by freshman forward Brianna Figueroa.
With an assist from Figueroa, Burnett dribbled the ball into the middle of the box in the second minute of the game and kicked a 15-yarder that hit the crossbar before going into the net.
And then in the 48th minute of the game, Burnett offered the assist to Figueroa, scoring on an empty netter after being able to escape from the Mustang’s goalie, who was trying to grab the ball away from Figueroa.
Five minutes later, the Mustangs counterattacked with its first score of the game and continued to put the pressure on Sunny Hills’ defense to try to even the score.
“I think the second goal was big; we knew that that team was capable of scoring at least one, and they did score a great goal,” Gordon said. “But this team is resilient; we love to defend, we love to get the ball out; Pris loves to make big saves.”
The coach was referring to his goalie, sophomore Priscilla Avila.
“Priscilla here made the save of the game and then some, and we were able to hold on and get the 2-1 victory,” said the coach, who had requested that Avila stand with him during the post-game interview.
In her first year as the team’s goalie, Avila came off the bench in the preseason, replacing injured starting goalkeeper senior Monica Reanne. The sophomore had shut out previous opponents from scoring during the Lady Lancers’ CIF playoff run.
With its third CIF title for the girls soccer program, the team will move on to the first round of CIF State Regional Championships Feb. 26. Its opponent has not been determined as of press time.
Meanwhile, Gordon said he and his team will relish this victory this weekend and when he and his players return to school.
“Every year our goal is to win a CIF championship, and this year it came true,” he said.
Updated at 11:40 a.m. Feb. 26: The girls soccer team received a bye in today’s first round of the state CIF playoffs, said athletics director Jon Caffrey. The team will play Thursday afternoon at Fullerton Union High School against the winner of one of today’s first-round games.