Great Oak's Steph Malherbe, heads the ball during their match with Temecula Valley Wednesday night.
TEMECULA The Great Oak and Temecula Valley High girls soccer teams have developed a thrilling rivalry the last two years, and the pair added another fine chapter to that ongoing strife Wednesday night.
The Golden Bears and Wolfpack traded blows in a rousing tug-of-war, which culminated in a 3-3 tie.
Up 3-2, Great Oak was only minutes away from clinching an outright league title when Temecula Valley’s Jordan Magnin hooked an improbable kick into the goal while standing near the horizontal boundary line around the 5-yard line marking.
“It’s a very awkward kick,” said Magnin, who had two assists. “I am not going to lie, I didn’t intend to shoot it. It was supposed to be a cross. The way it happened, it worked out. But it’s a really hard angle to be able to hit from there, just because you are so parallel to the goal.”
Despite their late heroics, the Golden Bears (16-3-5, 6-1-2) failed in their attempt to take control of the Southwestern League.
The first-place Wolfpack (14-2-3, 7-0-2) can reclaim the outright title with a win or tie Friday at Murrieta Mesa. Great Oak last won the championship in 2010-11 after Temecula Valley captured it last season.
Not only did the match’s momentum swing back and forth, but the contest was characterized by precision kicks and high quality plays by both sides.
“There were some nice shots,” said Great Oak senior Carlee Bates, who was playing her last regular-season home game. “Every goal that was made was quality. It wasn’t a little fluke. Everything was put in with purpose, even on their side.”
In the 19th minute, Great Oak junior Steph Malherbe used her left foot to blast a well-placed shot into the upper corner of the goal. Malherbe’s goal, the first score, set the tone for a game that would get wilder.
Becca Cartmill and Darla Guajardo followed with first-half goals to push Temecula Valley to a 2-1 halftime lead.
Great Oak tied the game in the 58th minute when Miranda Schulz’s perfectly placed corner kick was knocked into the goal by a header from Rachel Makwinski.
Seven minutes later, Bates scored on a quick transition breakaway, pulling Great Oak to a 3-2 advantage that held until the final minutes.
While the tie likely cost Temecula Valley its chance to repeat as champion, seniors such as Magnin seemed to appreciate the intensity.
“I have nothing to complain about,” Magnin said. “There’s nothing to be sad about. It was an amazing game. Of course, a win would have been nice but other than that, there’s no way I would have rather gone out here.”
Both teams played to a 2-2 tie in their first league meeting on Jan. 18 and split the league series in 2011-12. But, Great Oak took the Winter Classic final, 1-0, on Dec. 15 to claim bragging rights for this season.
“When you have TV and Great Oak in the game that means a lot,” Mikayla Brillon said. “It’s like the Boston Red Sox and Yankees. Manchester United and Man(chester) City, something like that.”