LAS FLORES- Rosary sophomore Olivia LaCasto readily acknowledged that her team is generally at a size disadvantage each time they take to the pitch.
But with one big swing of her right foot, LaCasto supplied the Royals an advantage on the scoreboard that they would not relinquish on the way toward their biggest victory in school history.
LaCasto scored the lone goal of the match in the first half, as Rosary defeated the Tesoro Titans, 1-0, in a CIF-SS Division 1 first round playoff match Thursday at Tesoro High.
The playoff victory is the first ever for Rosary (11-6-4) in a non-wild card Division 1 playoff contest.
“We’re always the smaller team and size has been an issue for us the whole season,” LaCasto said. “But we played big and winning this match just gives us so much confidence going into the next round.”
The Royals will host Long Beach Poly in a second round match Tuesday at Fullerton Junior College, as the Jackrabbits defeated Etiwanda 4-2 in their first round match.
Royals head coach Sean Melendez pointed to his team’s overall resilency as the key factor in pulling off the big road win.
“We knew it was going to be tough because Tesoro is full of talented kids,” Royals coach Sean Melendez said. “They (Tesoro) threw everything at us, but we were able to dig deep and find a way.”
“This was a team effort and I couldn’t be any prouder of the girls.”
A power outage at the school delayed kickoff of the match by 15 minutes, but once it started, the action on the field was electric.
Tesoro senior Valen Soares-Gache had two early scoring chances. In the fifth minute, she lifted a free kick over the crossbar. Two minutes later, she found an open space and blasted a hard line drive shot that sailed just over the crossbar.
The biggest moment of the match occurred in the 10th minute.
After a battle for control of a loose ball in the box, LaCasto found herself with an open look and blasted a shot into the back of the goal.
“Our team was working hard and the ball was just loose in the box,” LaCasto said. “I saw the shot opportunity and just went for it.”
Tesoro continued to hold a possession advantage over the Royals throughout much of the first half, but defenders Sam Dulac and Amy Morikawa helped spur a Royals defensive effort that repelled the Titans attack from producing goals.
Tesoro had two more quality scoring chances late in the half, but senior Hailey Hite blasted a shot just over the crossbar in the 31st minute.
Two minutes later, Valen-Gache was wide of the post on a shot in the box.
Rosary senior Emilee Monnig appeared to give the Royals a 2-0 lead in the 66th minute, when she chipped a shot into the back of net.
But Monnig was called for being offside just before she hit the shot and the goal was negated.
Tesoro applied heavy attacking pressure throughout the closing minutes of the match, but key defensive plays Dulac, junior Jazmin Valente, and McKenzie Hansen once again thwarted the Titans’ scoring efforts.
Tesoro produced one final scoring chance three minutes into extra time.
Freshman Skylar Smith found space close to the box and blasted a shot toward an open area by the near post.
But Royals junior goalie Emma Toohey timed her lunge to the right perfectly and knocked the ball away to prevent the match-equalizer.
Melendez stated the victory not only moves Rosary into the second round, but shows that the Royals are a program that can play on par with some of the bigger, more storied programs in the county.
“The win was huge because it kind of gets the hump off our back,” Melendez said “We have turned the corner and are ready to compete with some of the bigger programs.”
He was also resolute when asked what it would take for the Royals to advance past the Jackrabbits and into the quarterfinals.
“We’re going to have to compete for 80 minutes again,” he said.
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Photo of Oliva LaCasto courtesy of Jason Eichelberger
Source: Jason Eichelberger, OCSidelines