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March 28, 2020

Girls soccer: Mariners capture league tourney championship

APTOS—Aubree Westjohn helped lead the Aptos High girls’ soccer team to a Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League regular-season title 

But the Mariners’ senior wasn’t satisfied. 

She scored two goals on Saturday en route to a 4-1 victory over rival Santa Cruz High in the league tournament final at Cabrillo College. 

“It was definitely pretty big. We already won the league so we just really wanted to come out here and prove ourselves that we deserve it,” Westjohn said.  

The Mariners (15-2-2, 8-1-1) now have 12 SCCAL titles including six of the last seven. Aptos coach Carlos Bover said the girls were truly committed since the start of the season. 

“These girls work really hard,” Bover said. “Santa Cruz has an amazing team. For us to compete with them and hold them, it says a lot about our girls.”

Sophomore Kylie Nelson also stole the show, making a pair of incredible saves that secured both a regular season and tourney title for Aptos.

“(Nelson) kept us in, she was there in the right place,” Bover said. “She was mentally focused, which is something important for the goal keepers.”

On offense, the Mariners wasted no time, as Westjohn netted her first goal in the eighth minute. The shot came off of a rebound that went straight to her about five yards away from the goal posts.

She recorded her second goal 12 minutes later, this time from about 15 yards out to give Aptos a 2-0 lead.

“I just come out here wanting to win and wanting to get those goals in,” Westjohn said. “I don’t really think much. I just get the ball and go for a goal.” 

However, Santa Cruz found some hope in the 28th after sophomore Natalie Wanger’s 30-yard free kick slipped past Nelson to cut the lead in half.

The Cardinals’ offense continued to press near the end of the first half. Jasmine Nguyen had a golden opportunity to knot it up in the 33rd with a free kick that bounced off the left post.

Nelson said she believed she’d given up the game-tying goal, which would have shifted the momentum toward Santa Cruz’s way.

“I was like, ‘Oh shoot, it’s going in,’” Nelson said.

Bovar said the girls looked gassed, especially after coming off an exhausting overtime win against Soquel High in the semifinals on Thursday.  

“We were tired,” he said. 

Still, the Mariners stuck to the game plan and Bover made some minor adjustments at the half, including how to conserve some of their energy.

“Let’s not make runs that really make no sense,” he said. “Just make sure we pass the ball, move the ball, instead of running behind the ball. But we were struggling.”

Sophomore Jazmine Castañeda extended the lead with a strike in the 48th minute, while senior Brynn Mitchell sealed the deal with a score in the 73rd.

The Mariners await to see where they’ll be placed in the Central Coast Section playoffs. A seeding meeting takes place Wednesday at noon. 

“It’s a different beast, it’s a different animal,” Bover said. “We need to make sure that we’re prepared and this is not the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League anymore.”

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