Staring down a tie score in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 tournament on Tuesday, Canyon girls soccer’s Claudia McKail knew she had to act fast if the Cowboys were going to claim a home win.
One minute after Marymount’s game-tying goal, McKail coasted up the center of the field and past the goalkeeper for a score of her own to cement the score at 2-1 and sending Canyon to the quarterfinals.
“I knew that once they scored, we needed to get back quick,” McKail said, “so that they don’t have momentum.”
Throughout a scoreless first half that featured countless midfield battles, Canyon (12-7-2) struggled to find its own momentum as it traded shots with the Sailors.
A few halftime adjustments were all the Cowboys needed to gain some ground.
“We knew where their weaknesses were and where their key players were, so at halftime we knew where to go and where not to go,” said McKail. “So we just went off that and we just calmed down and played our game and we ended up winning.”
McKail broke through in the 44th minute, shooting the ball directly at the left post.
Marymount (15-3-7) countered in the 66th minute, getting past Canyon keeper Claudia McKail, who had made diving, reaching and catching saves throughout the game.
“I … try to always be ready and so from what I saw, it was just like a defensive breakdown and then she hit it and I got it,” said McKessy, a sophomore. “but then it hit the post and we weren’t able to get it in time.”
McKail’s goal came nearly immediately after, sending the Cowboys to the quarterfinals for the first time in program history. It’s also a playoff run that has caused coach Derek Rusk to dye his hair green in celebration.
“It’s awesome because most people don’t know Canyon as like, the type to go to playoffs … last year we went from winning like four games I think to now this,” said McKessy.
“And it’s really cool and we just want to do it for coach and he dyed his hair green for us and now we want to make it all the way for him (and) for our seniors.”