The Tartans defeated a talented Mater Dei team 12-9 on Saturday to advance to the Orange County Finals for the second year running. The Tartans relied on offensive possessions and a defensive effort that kept the Monarchs off the scoreboard for the first seventeen minutes of the second half.
Offensively, St. Margaret's was led by Niki Miles who tallied six goals on the afternoon, including four in the first half. Maddie Barkate and Jordan Miles combined for six points in the win.
On the defensive side of the ball, Barkate was stellar at the x, dominating draw controls to keep the Tartans in the driver's seat all afternoon. Netminder Olivia Young stonewalled the Monarchs, including a series of three consecutive saves on Mater Dei free position attempts.
"I'm super proud of our effort this afternoon," said senior Nikki Miles. "It's been a different feeling and mindset this year, and not without its challenges. I'm glad we have been able to step up and make it to the finals."
St. Margaret's will match up with Foothill HS in the finals to be played on May 8. The Tartans and Knights battled in a 9-7 St. Margaret's victory earlier in the season. The Championship is slated for a 4 p.m. start at Newport Harbor High School.
St. Margaret's received a gift with a Corona del Mar own-goal to open the semifinal match on Saturday evening and never looked back. The Tartans settled into a 12-5 victory to advance to their second straight Orange County Finals appearance.
Koa Todd was a force in the transition game for St. Margaret's, scoring five goals in the win. Kevin Groeneinger added three goals and three assists on the afternoon, putting him at 399 career points with 200 goals and 199 assists.
Defensively, faceoff specialist Stuart Pollard was undeniable at midfield, winning 16 of 21 attempts while goaltender Zane Handy made eight saves on the day. The Tartan defensive unit combined for 10 turnovers, limiting the Sea Kings' offensive bite.
"It's great to be headed back to the O.C. Finals, the seniors on this team wouldn't have wanted it any other way," said senior Kevin Groeninger. "We are hungry to win again and hungry to close it out with the Southern Section title this year."
St. Margaret's will draw Foothill High School in a rematch of 2018's O.C. Championship with the Tartans winning that one in overtime, 12-11. Please consult the athletic website for update game location and time.
Photos courtesy Wendy Ballard.