For the Division IV CIF quarterfinal game on Feb. 26, the La Jolla Country Day girls’ soccer team was missing two key components to its regular season success.
The Torreys were without junior Ali Hawkins, who was playing with the U.S. Under-17 Junior National Team against Germany.
Country Day was also playing away from home, on a neutral site hosted by La Jolla High School.
Despite the absence of their midfielder, the Torreys had little trouble defeating Mountain Empire, a team they faced earlier this season.
“We beat them in the regular season, but you never know,” Country Day’s Krista Liskevych said. “It’s CIF, so we have to play our game because anything can happen.”
Country Day held the Red Hawks scoreless and advanced to the semifinals with a dominating 6-0 performance.
“If you want to get to the semifinals, you need to win the quarterfinals. This was a big game,” Coach Dave Jenkins said. “It’s great. We worked really hard.”
Hallie Huston got the momentum rolling for the Torreys.
Nine minutes into the first half, the junior dribbled through two Mountain Empire defenders and then past a third, knocking in the first goal of the game to give Country Day a 1-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Liskevych got into the action, easily dribbling past the Red Hawks and scoring, putting the Torreys ahead, 2-0.
Later in the half, Liskevych found Becky Claudat open by the goal. Claudat cleanly put the ball away and Country Day jumped ahead 3-0.
And Liskevych began to have fun.
“It’s more fun to assist (others) than to score yourself,” Liskevych said.
Liskevych wasn’t done.
Four minutes after the Torreys’ third goal, Liskevych knocked in her second goal of the game, and Country Day ended the first half with a commanding 4-0 lead.
“They were having a ball,” Jenkins said. “Being up by three goals, the pressure is off and you can enjoy yourself. Our girls love getting others involved.”
The second half kicked off a little slower, but still in the Torreys’ favor.
Senior Kelly Foltz scored the first goal of the second half - and her first goal of the season - adding to Country Days’ lead, 5-0.
Liskevych later found Cory Meyerson who scored the sixth and final Torreys’ goal.
“We had so much fun, and it’s a huge relief,” Liskevych said. “Hopefully, we’ll get further than the semifinals.”
The pressure is now on for Country Day and it hopes the next round does not bring familiar results. For the past two seasons, the Torreys have been eliminated from the CIF playoffs in the semifinals. The team is older and more mature than in the past two years, Jenkins said.
Despite that, he said, the pressure is still on.
“We’re tired of getting knocked off in the semifinals,” Jenkins said. “We want to get to the final two.”
Before the Torreys can advance to the championship game, they must first get past Horizon in the next round, a team that Country Day has beaten in both contests this year, but still presents a challenge.
"(Horizon) is a good, tough, scrappy team,” Jenkins said. “We need to come out to battle, our speed needs to pick up and we need to finish all of our opportunities.”
Despite the added pressure and adversity the team has faced the last two years, Liskevych said they’re ready.
“We have to come out on our game because we want to win,” she said. “This is our year.”