When it's third- and fourth-grade girls silver division play at the Daily Pilot Cup youth soccer tournament, the action is somehow never quite how a coach might draw it up.
Both Kaiser Elementary and Lincoln benefited from an unlikely scoring chance, before Kaiser converted a more traditional opportunity in the 31st minute for the difference in the Knights' 2-1 pool-play victory Friday at Costa Mesa High.
In the 19th minute Kaiser's Frankie Garcia let loose a shot that appeared headed directly for the charging Lincoln goalkeeper. But the Leopards' last line of defense kicked too early at the ball in an attempt to clear it, and instead opened up a gap between her legs that the ball sailed through on its way to the cage to erase a 1-0 deficit.
Lincoln had gained the early lead when Kate Miller kept after a ball that appeared to be stolen by a defender about 10 yards from the goal line. Miller, however, picked up the ball that was peculiarly discarded by the defender and put it into the net to open the scoring.
In the 31st minute, Garcia converted a cross from teammate Delaney Gahm for the game-winning tally.
Garcia, Gahm and Hannah Hillson continually worked for scoring chances for Kaiser, which had the better of the action for most of the game.
When Lincoln did get something going, most often generated by the speed of Lauren Jones, Kaiser sweeper Reese Rasmussen, as well as defender Jazlin Ernst were there to thwart the chances that goalies Isabella Cruzalegui (first half) and Elizabeth McMahan (second half) did not save.
"Frankie was on it today, Delaney plays the whole game and gives it 100% the whole time, and Reese and Jazzy were key on defense," Kaiser Coach Paul Hillson said. "It was a hard-fought victory."
In addition to the strong play at the offensive end turned in by Jones, Miller and Ruby Carrillo, Lincoln Coach Steve Jones singled out the work of defender Ellie Liberto and first-half goalkeeper Laney Barrymore.
"It was just a good game," Steve Jones said. "Our girls were exhausted and their girls were exhausted. It's an exhausting time. Overall, I think both teams pushed hard and [the Knights] ended up with one more goal than we did. It's a good, hard-fought game."
Also contributing for Kaiser were Ashley Zempoalteca, Savannah Armijo, Olivia Swain, Chirra Amoroso, and Ximena Monroy.
Gahm, Garcia and Mikayla Cotton, who did not play on Friday, scored goals in Kaiser's 3-1 victory over Killybrooke to open pool play.
Several players on this team were members of the Knights' 3-4 bronze division squad that reached its division championship game at last year's Pilot Cup.
Also contributing for Lincoln on Friday, were, Emma White, JoJo Grange, Katie Sullivan, Elory Singer, Brooklyn Aguirre, Kyra Gregory, Miranda McOwen and Charlee Myers.
Lauren Jones scored Lincoln's lone goal in a 1-1 deadlock with Killybrooke in the Leopards' previous pool-play contest.