RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA — Faith George had two goals and an assist to lead the Santa Margarita girls soccer team to a 4-0 victory over Oaks Christian in a second-round match in the CIF SS Open Division playoffs on Saturday at Santa Margarita High School.
With the victory, the Eagles (11-2-4), the top seed in the Open Division, advance to the quarterfinal round, which begins Wednesday. They will play the winner of the Millikan-Mira Costa series.
Under the format for the new Open Division, teams play each other in a two-game series, with the cumulative score for both games determining the winner.
After the Eagles and No. 8 seed Lions (13-4-4) played to a scoreless tie in the first of their two-game series on Thursday at Oaks Christian, 4-0 was also the cumulative score for the series.
The Eagles are the reigning CIF-SS Division 1 and Southern California Regional Division I champions and are a series victory away from making its second straight trip to a Southern Section final.
“It’s been a long season so far,” said George, who has signed to play at USC. “I really do think we’re hitting our peak and we’re going stride for stride with really good teams and now it’s just going to be what the forwards can execute because I think our defense has it down.”
Finishing their scoring opportunities was a crucial factor in the victory, and that will continue to the be the case moving forward, George said.
“I came into this game and I was like, I’m going to finish, we need to finish,” the senior said. “I talked to the forwards. I said we have to finish today. Our team is counting on us. We have to put it in the back of the net. And so, I think that was kind of in the back of my mind the whole game, that I can’t let me team down.”
Sophomore Cora Fry scored off of a pass from George to give the Eagles an early 1-0 lead.
That’s how it stayed until the second half when George scored a pair of goals in similar fashion.
On both goals, George was running toward the goal, chasing down the ball, while the goalkeeper left the goal, trying to get to the ball first.
George won the race both times and was able to poke the ball into the net.
Felicity Nguyen scored the Eagles’ fourth goal in the final minutes.
Eagles coach Craig Bull, who is wrapping up his second season at Santa Margarita, also said finishing has been a problem at times this season.
“I actually think a lot more games this year, we’ve been a much better team and not necessarily gotten the result,” Bull said. “Whereas last year we had games where we probably weren’t the better team and we still won. So, I think that this year, the girls have been trying and really doing well and they’ve had a lot of games where we just couldn’t find that finishing touch. Today, we found it.
“They can do that to anyone. We have the ability to beat any team every time we play if we can just put the ball in the back of the net.”