By Marwan Razouk – Staff Writer, North County Times, May 25, 2008
RANCHO BERNARDO —- An undefeated season and a championship were on the line and on the mind of La Costa Canyon senior goalkeeper Haleh Nourani in the extra time period.
With the Mavericks’ girls lacrosse team holding a one-goal lead, Nourani may have made the biggest save of her career, denying Coronado’s Hannah Sebenaler on a breakaway effort to preserve the advantage.
Minutes later, the whistle blew and it was official: La Costa Canyon capped an undefeated season by beating Coronado 11-10 in the CIF San Diego Section championship game at Rancho Bernardo High on Saturday.
“My coach always tells me to step out on to the ball, and I did that,” Nourani said. “I was shaking. I was so scared. I had no idea how much time was left and it was a great play on the other side.”
The Mavericks made it back-to-back and three championships in four tries. La Costa Canyon finished 23-0 to become the first undefeated section champion.
“It’s amazing; we have talented athletes and lacrosse players,” Mavericks coach Katie Dolan said. “But it’s the chemistry that’s so great. They have a lot of respect for each other and they work really hard.”
The Mavericks dominated the first half and held on in the second half. La Costa Canyon was led by star senior Tara Arolla (five goals), and received steady play from fellow senior Meg Cruse (three goals) and junior Jackie Candelaria (three goals, three assists).
Arolla rocketed her way in and around Coronado defenders to score on consecutive possessions late in the first half for the lead. Her biggest goal came with nine minutes remaining in the game after Coronado senior Bria Phillips scored twice to cut the lead to 9-8.
The Islanders had a chance to tie —- Nourani (13 saves) stopped a penalty shot by Coronado’s Hannah Sebenaler —- but Arolla took it upon herself to help the Mavericks regain momentum.
“Definitely, being a senior and leader, I feel like it’s my responsibility to set the tone,” said Arolla, who will play lacrosse for the University of California in the fall. “I felt I needed to at least gain possession and do something with it.”
Coronado (23-2) became the first non-North County Conference team in the seven-year section history to make it to the championship game.
Both Islanders losses came at the hands of the Mavericks —- La Costa Canyon defeated Coronado 9-7 on April 7.
Contact staff writer Marwan Razouk at firstname.lastname@example.org.