Junior midfielder Shelby Brown called the end of the Corona del Mar High girls' soccer season "crazy," and nobody who saw the games would argue.
Two tight wins on the road at the end of league helped the Sea Kings win their fourth straight outright league title. In the first, CdM had to survive a last-minute, penalty-kick attempt against Beckman. In the second, the Sea Kings had to rally from a two-goal deficit at Northwood in the final 20 minutes.
CdM then earned two shootout wins in its first two games of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, against Fountain Valley and Upland. The Sea Kings fell to Foothill in the quarterfinals to end the memorable run.
"It was crazy, and it was really fun," Brown said. "I've never experienced any games like that before. These were probably the craziest games I've [played in]."
The games weren't the only crazy thing about the second half of the Sea Kings' season. The play of Brown was equally insane.
Standing just 5-foot-4, Brown put the Sea Kings (13-6-4) on her back after returning from a concussion. Deadly on her free kicks as well as in the run of play, she scored off a free kick in the Beckman game. She had a goal and two assists, factoring in all three goals in the comeback win at Northwood.
These were masterful performances with CdM's league title streak on the line. And for the season, Brown tied for the team lead with six goals and led CdM with eight assists. Her leadership earned her Pacific Coast League Offensive MVP honors, as well as first-team All-CIF Division 1 honors.
Brown can add another honor to the list. She is the 2013-14 Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Player of the Year for girls' soccer.
"She just stepped up as a leader and shined," CdM Coach Bryan Middleton said. "It was definitely an overall team effort ... but she definitely stood out as one of the top players on our team. She made things happen in the second half of league."
Brown, a high-level club soccer player, is on the same Slammers FC team with CdM teammates Miranda Stiver, Brianna Westrup and Brynn Motal. On CdM, she has enjoyed even more of a leadership role after the Sea Kings lost two high-level midfielders, Annie Alvarado (now at UCLA) and Karsten Sigband, to graduation.
Of her three years on varsity, Brown said this year was easily the toughest. The Sea Kings lost the Battle of the Bay game to rival Newport Harbor for the first time in four years, and fell behind in league play after bad losses to University and Irvine.
In the end, however, the Sea Kings ended up on top. And Brown, whose nickname is "Chutty," could definitely be proud of that.
"Everyone said it was going to be a rebuilding year, and I think we all just wanted to prove them wrong," she said. "We all worked together as a team to do that, and that motivated all of us."
Here's a look at the other 11 players on this year's Newport-Mesa Girls' Soccer Dream Team:
A senior captain, Prather provided leadership for the Sailors (7-14-3, 1-7-2 in league). Newport Harbor suffered injuries to key forwards, but Prather led the team with 11 goals scored from the center midfield and forward positions. She had a goal and an assist as Newport Harbor upset CdM, 3-2, in the Battle of the Bay game for its first rivalry victory in four years. A three-year varsity player, Prather will play soccer at Colorado State University-Pueblo.