BWP: Mira Costa avoids San Marcos’ upset bid

San Marcos goalie Jack Palmer waits for a shot as defender Felipe Carsalade harasses Mira Costa's Finn Pardon. (John Dvorak/Presidio Sports Photo)

San Marcos goalie Jack Palmer waits for a shot as defender Felipe Carsalade harasses Mira Costa’s Finn Pardon. (John Dvorak/Presidio Sports Photo)

Mira Costa made the most of a second overtime period against San Marcos on Saturday, clinching a CIF Division-2 semifinal berth with an 8-7 victory.

The No. 6-seeded Royals almost produced the upset over the third-seeded Mustangs, but Mira Costa avoided a scare at the end of regulation and scored the first two goals of overtime to survive. Nate Griffith scored the eventual game-winner, giving the Mustangs an 8-6 lead with 1:47 to go on a left-handed skip shot to the near post that slid under San Marcos goalie Jack Palmer’s arm. Jake Miller-Tolt scored Mira Costa’s first goal of overtime.

San Marcos did not wave the white flag.

With 1:30 remaining, Spencer Wood cut the lead in half, rising above a double team to ram home a shot from six meters out. After a defensive stop, the Royals had one more possession to tie the game but came up empty.

The Royals also had a chance to win at the end of regulation. Trailing 6-4 at the conclusion of the third quarter, San Marcos’ fourth-quarter rally started less than a minute in when George Kuesis took a pass in transition, drew a defender and goalie towards him, then passed to Miles Cole for an easy goal. Mira Costa was being conservative with the play clock, killing as much time as possible with each possession, and the Mustangs’ failed to generate any great chances on offense during the quarter as a result.

It left the door open for the Royals, who tied the game on a goal by Felipe Carsalade with 42 seconds on the clock. San Marcos stopped Mira Costa again to get the ball back with 11 seconds to work with. Mira Costa’s defense smothered San Marcos’ play without a shot attempt and overtime was next.

It was the third time of the season that the two teams had faced each other. Each team had won once coming in.

“It was a tough game. CIF is a whole different story,” said Mira Costa head coach Jon Reichardt.

San Marcos head coach Jeff Ashton thought his team did a good job containing Miller-Tolt to two goals.

“We had done such a good job all game and then in that second overtime he finds himself wide open up top and he hit that shot. That was unfortunate because we had been doing such a good job,” Ashton said.

Mira Costa’s scoring was spread around. Christian Thornton and Liam Cook shared the team-high in goals with Miller-Tolt.

Wood’s three goals led San Marcos. Carsalade scored twice, while Kuesis and Cole registered one each. Palmer returned to defending the cage for the Royals after missing Thursday’s playoff opener with an illness.

Mira Costa advances to the semifinal round to be played on Wednesday at the Woolett Aquatics Center in Irvine.