A regulation girls soccer match is contested for approximately an hour and a half. As far as Temecula Valley High is concerned, it's 90 minutes of keepaway.
"We play possession with a purpose," Golden Bears coach Amber Young said. "The purpose is to create scoring chances and score goals."
In other words, it's their ball. And they're going to keep it.
Temecula Valley also knows how to deposit it into the opposing net. Led by senior striker Jordan Francescon's 13 goals, the Golden Bears have scored a whopping 50 goals in nine games and are off to an 8-2 start as they've established themselves as one of the area's top teams.
"We play very good possession," said senior midfielder Kourtney Kutscher, who leads the team with nine assists. "You will rarely see our team just kick the ball and chase. When we play possession, we are unstoppable."
Their protective style was in full display when they defeated Southwestern League rival Great Oak, 3-0, in the final of last week's Great Oak Winter Classic.
The Wolfpack, which had won last year's tournament, spent most of the night chasing a moving target — the ball.
"This year's team has played with a shared passion and commitment to a possession style of play," Young said. "We have many different offensive threats that make it hard to defend us."
The Golden Bears appear to have players with a nose for the net covering a majority of the field. Four have scored at least six goals already. Three players have at least five assists.
"We want to know and understand the role of each position and fulfill the role within the framework of the whole team," Young said. "We play a 4-3-3 and want to stress possession with a purpose of going forward to create scoring chances."
Said junior Striker Jordan Magnin, who has six goals and eight assists: "We play the game how it was meant to be played, by making simple decisions and advancing the ball through passing."
Where has all the offensive and defensive prowess come from? The team says some of it originated all the way from Europe.
Last summer, Young traveled to Germany to watch the Women's World Cup. The unique warmup drills of the women's national team from Brazil caught her eye.
"It was an amazing thing to watch," Young recalled.
She studied the drills closely, and began teaching them to her team on the first day of practice.
The warmup involves passing, jogging, volleying, stretching, sprinting, agility and possessing.
"More than anything, it's a different structure to a typical warm-up," Young said. "I think that the girls like that is it different than what we have done in the past, and I think that because this is what (Brazilian national star player) Marta and the other Brazilians do prior to games gives credibility to the warm-up."
The players said the drills were difficult at first. But once they caught on, it became catchy.
"The Brazilian drill helps us because it is very organized and looks good when we are in rhythm," said senior midfielder Krystal Kutscher, Kourney's twin sister. "It keeps is focused and makes our team look professional."
When the Brazilian warmup is completed, they begin a drill that appears to be crossing up the competition.
"We were terrible at crosses last year," said Young. "I was frustrated that we continually crossed balls behind the goal, losing the opportunity to get a shot. Our runs were bad and we finished off crosses poorly."
They have worked diligently on crossing one another near the opposing goal. The confusion generated has led to many wide-open nets.
"Scoring goals has become contagious around here," Young said. "I have never been a part of team that scores at this rate."