For all the success the Marymount High School soccer program has enjoyed over the last two decades, it seems hard to believe it has been 17 years since the Sailors last won a CIF Southern Section title.
That may be about to change, however as the Sailors are one game away from giving longtime coach Tony Green his first championship since 1995 when he led Marymount to the Division 5 crown.
On Tuesday, the second-seeded Sailors (19-3-4) blanked visiting South Torrance 2-0 in the semifinals of the Division 4 tournament. Marymount plays top-seeded Westlake Village Oaks Christian (20-5-1), a 5-3 semifinal winner against Moreno Valley Canyon Springs, in the finals either Friday or Saturday at Warren High in Downey.
It was Marymount's second victory over the Spartans this season. The Sailors beat South Torrance (22-4-5) by the same score in its own tournament Dec. 17.
Last Friday, Marymount traveled to Ventura County and edged La Reina 1-0 in the quarterfinals at Cal Lutheran University. Junior Natalie Gigg scored her 16th goal of the season off a corner kick by senior Isabella DeSantis in the 76th minute. That was enough to send the Sunshine League champions to the semifinals for the second time in three years. South Torrance had defeated Santa Paula 4-1 in its quarterfinal game.
On paper, the final looks like an even matchup. Oaks Christian split its Tri-Valley League meetings with La Reina, losing the first 3-2 then rebounding to win 8-0 in the second. Another common opponent is Cerritos Valley Christian, which fell to Marymount 2-0 in its season opener and lost to the Lions 3-1 in the Division 4 quarterfinals.
Despite the loss of All-CIF goalkeeper Loren Hart (who had 16 shutouts) and defensive captain Mia Towle to graduation, the Sailors have already surpassed what they accomplished last winter when they went 17-4-2, finished second in the Sunshine League and lost a shootout to Riverside Arlington in the second round of the playoffs.
The Sailors nearly suffered a similar fate this season, but goalkeeper Michall Singleton's clutch saves allowed Marymount to get past La Sierra on penalty kicks in the first round. In the second round, the Sailors scored in the first five minutes of overtime and held on for a 2-1 victory over host Windward at Mar Vista Park.
One key in Tuesday's victory was Marymount's ability to mark the Spartans' 19-goal scorer, freshman striker Kalyn Kaemerle, as well as 13-goal scorers Amanda Whittle and Hayley Suart.
In Green's 21 seasons, Marymount has won 16 league titles and has qualified for the CIF playoffs every year.