Santa Clarita Christian Cardinals girls’ soccer fell just short of a Heritage League title on Thursday night at Central Park.
The Cardinals were looking for their seventh league win of the year, which would have clinched a co-league championship. SCCS dominated possession but the game ended in a scoreless draw with the visiting Vasquez Mustangs (13-5-1, 4-3-1).
SCCS (9-3-2, 6-1-1) was close several times but shots just missed or were saved. Freshman Kylah Bennett and junior Cam Lawson led the Cardinal attack but were held scoreless for just the second time this season.
Second-year head coach Kailey Marquez was nonetheless proud of the team’s strong performance in the draw.
“We are in second place now in league, which is bittersweet, but with the outcome of this game, you can’t be too upset,” Marquez said. “They played so hard. It’s sad because we didn’t come up with the outcome we wanted, but I’m still super proud of the girls and how they played and how they’ve carried themselves throughout the game.”
Bennett had one of her best looks late in the first half on a deep free kick. The freshman’s shot was on line but just sailed over the crossbar.
The Mustangs didn’t rally for many quality attacks but SCCS keeper Kaysa Brown was ready in between the posts to stop any shots on target. Brown finished with a key pair of saves.
Brown didn’t need to worry much, with the Cardinals’ backline constantly clearing out balls or forcing turnovers. Late in the game, Vasquez registered three straight attacks with a pair of corners and a free kick. The Mustangs were turned away each time by the SCCS defense, led by captain Dakota Rappleye.
Rappleye was proud of her young team’s performance not just on Thursday but throughout the season.
“Our defense has definitely been really strong, especially when getting it out and up to our forwards,” Rappleye said. “It’s been a joy to play with them and to see how far we really have come because a lot of the girls on the team actually haven’t really played soccer before. So, to see that and to see how our season went this year was really encouraging.”
Senior Clara Ayer came close to scoring in the second half for the Cardinals. Ayer received the ball driving up the field and nearly delivered the golden goal but the shot was saved.
SCCS’ last chance came after Vasquez’s goalie over-extended. Bennett came close to winning the game late and got past the keeper but the Mustang backline recovered just in time to stop the attack.
Rappleye was one of four senior Cardinals honored in their last regular-season home game. Reese Woodward, Ayer, Brown and Rappleye were all celebrated before the regular season finale.
The seniors won’t get to hoist a Heritage League championship trophy but can instead play for a CIF Division 7 crown.
“We’re confident and super excited,” Rappleye said. “We’re ready to go and play our game. Hopefully we’ll go far. But we’re here for the game and as long as we have fun, that’s all that matters.”
SCCS finds out its postseason journey on Saturday when the CIF releases its girls’ soccer brackets.
“I’m super excited and I’m super confident,” Marquez said. “I’m really excited to see the other teams that we’re going to be playing in playoffs. I’m excited to get the girls back on a Monday, start practice and fix the little things. Hopefully we can go far in playoffs.”