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First-place Mater Dei girls soccer avoids league loss to JSerra

SANTA ANA >> The Mater Dei girls soccer team was on the verge of being defeated by JSerra in a Trinity League game Tuesday at Mater Dei High School. But a goal by Sami Baytosh with four minutes remaining forced the contest to end in a 2-2 tie.

Baytosh was able to settle the ball and get off a good shot after taking an excellent forward pass from Skylar Cano.

The Lions came close to winning in the final seconds on a shot from Kenzie Herzing, but it went just wide of the goal.

Mater Dei (11-3-3, 2-0-1) remains in first place and unbeaten in league play, but a tie instead of a victory for the Monarchs allows the Lions (3-4-6, 1-1-2) to stay within range.

“The girls showed they are very resilient,” Mater Dei coach Matty West said of his team. “The late goal showed the girls are committed to each other and for each other.”

Jenna Rivera’s goal on a corner kick 12 minutes into the game gave Mater Dei a 1-0 lead.

Rivera put a sharp hook on the ball, which found a small opening in the top right corner of the goal.

“It was just an incredible shot,” West said.

The Lions tied the score on a goal from Chelsea Loeser and then took the lead early in the second half on a goal from Kaylee Shozi, who controlled the ball and scored off a rebound of her own shot.

JSerra goalkeeper Maysen Veronda did her part to keep the score tied, first stopping a blast from Lina Rivas, and then jumping to pull a corner kick out of the air before the Monarchs could get control of the ball.

The Monarchs defeated the Lions, 1-0, in a tournament game on Nov. 30, and the two teams will close out league play against each other in the final game of the regular season.

“I want to give JSerra a lot of credit,” West said. “They were really tenacious tonight.”

The Lions also let a lead slip away in a Trinity League game against Santa Margarita on Jan. 4, which ended in a 2-2 tie.

“We’ve got to work on finishing games,” JSerra first-year coach Anjel Brown said. “Otherwise, this team is special. We’ve got a special group of girls. We’ve got a young group of girls.”

Seven of JSerra’s 11 starters are freshmen and sophomores, but the team is improving with every game, Brown said.

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