FULLERTON — The matter-of-fact attitude Great Oak High girls soccer coach Alicia Brennan showed didn't quite match the show of emotions from her team late Tuesday afternoon.
Perhaps it was a brave face Brennan mustered from the experience of a coach over that of high school teenagers.
Great Oak's furious playoff run ended in a flurry of shots on the opponent's goal Tuesday, but it did not end with a win, as top-seeded and host Fullerton Sunny Hills escaped its own pitch with a 2-1 victory over the Wolfpack in the CIF Southern Section Division II semifinals.
The Wolfpack (15-6-4) wound up with the loss despite outshooting Sunny Hills on goal, 10-0, in the second half.
"It did get frustrating," Brennan said, "but these girls play this sport as a high-pressure sport. You just don't make every shot."
After all, if they had, this would have been a blowout in the Wolfpack's favor.
Sunny Hills took a 2-0 halftime lead on set-piece goals by sophomore forward Maribell Morales and junior midfielder Megan Hodgson. It was a rather lackluster first half for the Wolfpack.
"At halftime, we started getting pumped up and getting some energy," said senior goalkeeper Michelle Craft, who had all three of her saves in the first half. "At the start, we just didn't have much energy at all."
But they came out firing after the half, even if they couldn't quite convert.
Sophomore Steph Malherbe shot wide from the left side on a breakaway in the 44th minute. Senior Gabi Forss was stopped on back-footed attempt right in front of goal in the 52nd minute. Malherbe shot above the goal from inside in the 54th and had another solid kick from 20 yards out punched above the bar in the 66th minute by Sunny Hills keeper Amanda Poertner, who notched nine saves playing only in the second half.
Finally, Great Oak junior Miki Brillon converted a score from 25 yards out on the right side, shooting to the upper left shelf in the 73rd minute to cut the score to 2-1.
"We knew we had to score early against them," Sunny Hills coach Jeff Gordon said. "I just knew they had a lot of talent and a lot of skilled players."
"That was a world-class goal," he added.
The Wolfpack, though, couldn't get the score any closer, even with Brillon and Malherbe both getting good looks in injury time. The final whistle blew, and the emotions poured out of the Wolfpack players.
The second-place team from the Southwestern League got hot in the playoffs, shutting out three consecutive opponents and defeating Long Beach Poly in Friday's quarterfinals in a shootout.
"These girls have been amazing, not only on the field, but off the field," Brennan said. "It's been really special for a coach to have a group like this."
Said Craft: "This year, we just took off and started to play together as a team. This is just setting the foundation for the program."