Kendall Mulvaney led by example as a senior captain for the Corona del Mar High girls' soccer and lacrosse teams.
Don't get the wrong idea. Mulvaney was anything but passive. She cared so much about her teammates, her best friends, on both teams that her competitive nature shined through every time.
In soccer, Mulvaney was the one who made big plays with her hands, coming up big in back-to-back penalty-kick shootout victories over Fountain Valley and Upland in the first two rounds of the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
In lacrosse, Mulvaney led the team in assists, dishing the ball out from the "X" position behind the goal. Yet Mulvaney herself scored perhaps the biggest single goal of CdM's season in the final seconds, lifting the Sea Kings to an upset win over Foothill in the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division quarterfinals.
Both teams earned epic win after epic win, and Mulvaney was always a big-time performer. That also extended to the classroom, where Mulvaney had a 4.2 grade-point average. It even extended to leadership, as CdM ASB vice-president, and her membership in the National Charity League.
Mulvaney is the 2013-14 Newport-Mesa Female High School Athlete of the Year, as selected by the Daily Pilot.
Soccer was always the first love for Kendall, the second of Brian and Lauren Mulvaney's four girls. Mom and dad grew up playing lacrosse in the Boston area. Lacrosse was definitely something that Kendall grew up around, but she wasn't as enthusiastic, at least compared to her mother who started the Newport Wedge youth program.
"It was a thing I didn't love," Kendall Mulvaney said. "I had to go, because my mom made me."
Soccer is the sport that Mulvaney will play in college, as a goalie at the University of Denver. Yet she grew to love using a lacrosse stick as well. Maybe it was because of the friendships, which she valued most of all.
"I'm so glad I played both sports," she said. "It was the best way to go out."
Mulvaney went out as a winner. She showed patience in soccer, in which she plays club for West Coast. She was a four-year varsity goalie at CdM, but spent much of her freshman and sophomore years backing up Lindsey Luke (the 2010-11 Newport-Mesa Player of the Year now at Utah) and Sarah Cox (Stanford), respectively. Mulvaney called Luke one of her favorite people she's ever played with, and a great role model.
Last year, Mulvaney split time with then-freshman Kat Hess, another talented goalie.
"I had amazing people to watch and learn from," Mulvaney said. "We got lucky with all three of them, Lindsey, Sarah and Kat. They're all very good."
But this year, Mulvaney was the only one between the posts.
"Thankfully, she was healthy the whole season," CdM girls' soccer Coach Bryan Middleton said. "She was a huge part of our success this year. It was pretty obvious in the last four games how much she meant to the team ... She was the only varsity goalie that we had. This was her season."
The last four wins also included must-win league victories on the road against Beckman and Northwood, which helped CdM win its fourth straight outright Pacific Coast League title. Both were memorable. In the Beckman game, Mulvaney, showing her competitive nature, was yellow-carded in stoppage time with her team up by a single goal after CdM was called for a hand-ball in its own box. Junior defender Brianna Westrup went in goal for the penalty kick — the only time all season that Mulvaney stepped out of the goal. But the penalty kick went over the goal and CdM survived.
In the Northwood game, CdM scored three straight goals in the final 20 minutes to rally for a 3-2 victory that clinched the league title. But things didn't really get less exciting, with the two shootout wins to follow in CIF.
"Obviously it's very scary and nerve-wracking," said Mulvaney, who earned second-team all-league and CIF Division 1 honors as well as Newport-Mesa Dream Team status. "You either love it or you hate it; there's no in-between with PKs. It kills you, or it makes you better. I usually like it because it gets your adrenaline pumping and it makes you think. When you do save it, it's the best feeling in the world, and if you don't save it, it's not your fault. It's a win-win, if you think about it that way ... Both of those games were some of the most memorable moments of my high school career."
Memorable moments also came in the lacrosse season. CdM struggled to find its identity at the start of the season but came together for big upset victories over Foothill and Beckman during the regular season. At the time of the Foothill win, the Knights were ranked No. 1 in the state by laxpower.com.
CdM shared the Pacific Coast League title with Beckman and earned the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, where it beat Mission Viejo and upset Foothill again before falling to Los Alamitos. Mulvaney was again in the middle of it, finishing with 21 goals and a team-best 51 assists, as well as 36 ground balls. A three-year varsity player, she earned first-team all-league accolades.
"As a senior captain, she was everyone's biggest fan," CdM girls' lacrosse Coach Aly Simons wrote in an email. "Her main mission was assisting others to score, and she would jump up in the air in joy after her teammates goals. Kendall is not only a outstanding athlete, but is a leader and example on and off the field. Her teammates look up to her for her hard work and love for the game."
Yes, Mulvaney ended up loving both soccer and lacrosse. And her teammates and coaches surely loved her contributions in both sports.
Asked to pick her favorite athletic moment at CdM, Mulvaney hesitated for a bit.
"I don't want to choose one sport over the other," she said, finally deciding on a couple of awesome moments from this year.
The first was senior teammate Miranda Stiver's key soccer goal in the league finale at Northwood, which tied the score at 2-2. The second was Mulvaney's own goal in lacrosse to beat Foothill the second time.
The score, which came with seven seconds left, helped CdM edge Foothill, 12-11.
"Girls in sports, when you know it could be your last game, you get very emotional and very attached to the people around you," Mulvaney said. "You realize that this may be the last time you're on the field with them. It was more the moment that I care about. It wasn't the fact that we won. I know [fellow senior team captains] Kacie [Kline], Jamie [Smith] and 'Bean' [Smith] were around me, and my little sister was there, which made it really cool. They were all surrounding me, and I was in a moment of shock ... I feel like I made them proud, and you could see the pure happiness in all of their faces."
Mulvaney paused for a second, letting out a laugh.
"There we go," she said. "I didn't favor one sport, so I won't get in trouble."