BY MIRJAM SWANSON
STAFF WRITER email@example.com
“They’re lookin for a repeat … We’re lookin for an upset. Hard work pays off. #letsfinishthis :)”
— Hemet senior Rosie Robinson, on Twitter
If Robinson and her topseeded Bulldogs are to finish off the school’s first CIF girls soccer championship, they’ll have to defeat the defending Division 6 champs to do it.
And if she, Tristan Self and Kayla Bozer are to add a third championship ring to their already flashy CIF jewelry collection, consisting of two volleyball titles, they’ll have to make it happen at a not-exactly-neutral site.
The Bulldogs face San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret’s (17-4-5) at 5 p.m. today at Mission Viejo High, kicking off the seven girls championships matches that will be decided this weekend at the Diablos’ Stadium. Redlands Citrus Valley faces Chatsworth Sierra Canyon at noon on Saturday for the Division 7 crown.
“We’re feeling pretty confident,” said Robinson, who had two assists in Tuesday’s tense 2-1 semifinal victory over visiting South Pasadena. “I know we’ve never played St. Margaret’s, but we feel pretty confident because we know if we just play the way we know how to play, we can beat anybody.”
Just ask Savana Loutzenhiser, Danika Hitchcock and Baylee Christian, who also were a part of the championship Bulldogs volleyball team this past season.
Hemet’s soccer squad — loaded with fabulous freshmen, including 30-goal scorer Krista Haddock, 27-goal scorer Nola Prickett and defensive stopper Maddie Denbaug — has some keen insight into how to go about handling the championship thing.
“I know volleyball and soccer are two different sports,” Robinson said. “But being in those high-pressure situations and knowing how to handle it regardless of what sport it is, it really does help a lot.
“We had a little talk after practice today and basically told them, ‘There’s no reason we should play frantic or that we should feel pressure. We’re a good team and when we do what we do best, we tend to do really well.’ ”
And having survived the semifinals for the first time, Hemet (23-2-2) finally gets to take its show of confidence on the road.
A year ago, the Bulldogs played every match of their semifinal run at home. Same story this season, when Hemet hosted its first match (after a first-round bye) and won every coin flip thereafter. Garden Grove came all the way out to lose, 6-1, in the second round, and La Canada Flintridge made the trek only to be excused, 4-0, in the quarterfinals.
But Hemet likely will feel like the visitor against the Tartans, whose campus is less than 10 miles away from Mission Viejo.
“It’ll be interesting, but we’ll finally get to wear our reds (uniforms), which we like,” Hemet coach Craig Dwinnell said. “Gotta get the positives where you can.”
“We’re excited to bust out the red,” Robinson concurred. “And we realize they’re really close and they’re probably going to get a lot of fans because it’s a big game and everything. But it doesn’t matter; it’ll just be a bigger crowd to upset.”