Harvard-Westlake beats Wildcats, 3-0, in CIF opener
West Ranch girls’ soccer had a tough draw in its CIF Southern Section Division 2 opener, traveling to perennial power Harvard-Westlake, and the Wolverines sent the Wildcats home with a 3-0 victory on Wednesday.
West Ranch (9-7-2) head coach Jared White said that the scoreline doesn’t quite reflect how even the two teams played, but that an early goal for the Wolverines tilted the momentum in their favor. Harvard-Westlake has typically been in Division 1, White said, and still has the talent of one of those teams despite being placed in Division 2 by the Southern Section.
“We knew when the draw came out that it was going to be tough, especially without our best center back, Naliya [Montebon],” White said. “So, I don’t think it was unexpected to get the loss. I think if you look at the score, the game was not a 3-0 game. It was much more competitive than I think the score would indicate.”
Montebon, a senior, has been out since the midway point of the season after tearing her ACL.
The Wolverines got the scoring going early through Kaia Santomarco-King, a player who White had set out to keep quiet. Santomarco-King was able to score via a counter attack in just the third minute of the game.
“You can watch all the film you want, but until you get out on the field and realize just how fast Kaia is, you know, it’s pretty amazing,” White said. “That girl can fly and she, first touch, got the ball, zigged across the field and zagged back and got a goal to put them up early. But after that, it was an incredibly competitive game.”
Harvard-Westlake increased the lead to 2-0 with 30 seconds to go in the half on a throw-in that was headed on to the crossbar before falling to the feet of Madi Grant, who put it away.
The Wolverines got their third goal from Kayla Davidoff just a few minutes into the second half, this one a rebound from a save by West Ranch goalkeeper Maddison Coe.
“They did a good job of kind of winning those second balls inside our 6-yard box and that’s kind of how they got two of them,” White said.
The Wildcats’ season ended on Wednesday, but White believes that his squad did well to come together following the departure of more than 20 seniors over the prior two seasons, not to mention losing their star center back during the season.
He was especially thankful to his seniors for helping to lead what was a younger group than White is used to having.
“In terms of the seniors,” White said, “Mikayla [Toliver], Naliya, you know, they’re obviously the ones who have played three and four years at the varsity level, and just kind of the legacy that they leave, the accolades and just the sacrifice that they put in, you know, to continue to elevate West Ranch girls’ soccer is really impressive.”