After a pair of blowouts, Part III of the Buchanan versus El Camino Real girls soccer trilogy was a nail-bitter decided by the colossal throw-in launched by Carley McBeath.
The San Jose State-bound senior's extraordinarily long lob sailed to the far post, where Alex Marquez was waiting to head in the game's only goal in the 48th minute as the fifth-seeded Conquistadores from Woodland Hills topped the No. 4 Bears 1-0 in the opening round of the CIF Southern California Regional Division I playoffs Tuesday at Tice Park.
"She's a weapon," El Camino Real coach Eric Choi said of McBeath, a four-year starter who has played for Canada's under-17 national team.
This was the same El Camino Real team that Buchanan throttled 3-0 on a neutral field Dec. 29 at the Tri Valley Classic in Danville. It's also the same team that thundered the visiting Bears 5-0 in last year's SoCal Regional.
"There wasn't any secrets what we had or what they had," second-year Buchanan coach Orlando Ramirez said. "They took our attacking players out of the game pretty good. I feel like we played better soccer. But they are a good team and they capitalized on their opportunity."
Buchanan's best chance to tie the score came in the 58th minute as Caitlyn Kreutz tapped a pass to Haylee Lopes just before getting tripped up. Lopes would knock the ball past El Camino Real goalkeeper Alex Best, but not before the referee called the tripping foul, negating the score.
The Bears were awarded the free kick from the top of the box, but Miranda Rudolph's blast went off the Conquistadores' wall.
"It was legit," Ramirez said. "That's the way things go. (The referee) was already looking to the advantage, but he blew his whistle. And as a coach, I was calling for the foul. It's unfortunate, but you have to let the ref do his job."
Buchanan would get off only two more shots the rest of the way while losing its regional opener for the second straight year. The Bears have played in the regional five times since its launch in 2008, with their best finish a runner-up effort in 2009.
"From where we started to how we finished, I couldn't be more proud of them," said Ramirez, whose Central Section Division I champion Bears finished 19-5-1. "We're right here where we need to be to challenge for this."
The Conquistadores (19-3-4) advance to face No. 8 Downey, which upset top-seeded Wilson-Long Beach in a scoreless game decided on penalty kicks, in a regional semifinal at 4 p.m. Thursday.
NOW, IT'S BASKETBALL'S TURN
After two days of regional soccer, including the Farmersville boys advancing in Division III with a 3-0 win Tuesday, the attention shifts to the hardwood.
The Bee's Andy Boogaard will provide coverage today from the Clovis West girls and boys Division I doubleheader, and we're your real-time source for other results as they come in. Follow along on Twitter @beepreps
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com, (559) 441-6103 or @NickG_FB on Twitter.