Cathedral Catholic sophomore Sunny Dunphy (12) runs toward teammates after the Dons defeated La Costa Canyon for the Southern California Regional Division II title. It was Cathedral’s third regional championship and second in a row.
DOWNEY Cathedral Catholic sophomore Sunny Dunphy obviously couldn’t wait to break a first-half deadlock in the Southern California Regional Division II girls soccer final.
Dunphy scored in the first minute of the second half to put the top-seeded Dons ahead to stay for a 2-1 victory over La Costa Canyon and a repeat championship at Warren High on Saturday.
“We were angry at our performance (in the first half) because it wasn’t as good as it should have been,” said Dunphy, who finished with a team-high 15 goals this season. “So we came out with fire because it was bound to happen with our talent and how we play together.”
Senior Tamara Gomez also scored for the Dons (26-2-3), who claimed their third title overall in the seven-year history of the regional tournament.
“Every time, it just builds on your happiness, and you’re so proud of your team,” said Dunphy, who converted a close-range shot off an assist by Dana Dalton. “It’s just an awesome experience.”
This meeting with the No. 3 Mavericks (19-6-3) was also a de facto San Diego Section championship match, since the Dons prevailed in Division I for their third straight title and La Costa Canyon won the Open Division crown. Despite being a perennial power, Cathedral was denied Open Division status by a rule allowing only two steps up from Division III last season.
“It’s amazing (to win again),” Dons coach Dawn Lee said. “To do what we did with this group, such a young crew, just amazing.”
Gomez recorded two of her four goals in the three regional playoff games. Saturday, she opened the scoring in the 20th minute by taking a pass from Ally Ocon.
“As the season goes on, I get momentum and get excited,” said Gomez, who played competitive soccer only during the prep season. “This was my last big hurrah, and I had to leave it all on the field.”
La Costa Canyon pulled even at 1-1 on Pilar Torres’ 24th goal of the season, 8 minutes before halftime. In the second half, Cathedral goalkeeper Hanna Macaulay made all four of her saves.
The Dons closed the season with a 22-game unbeaten streak. Overall, they outscored opponents 92-21.