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Sea Kings escape Lions 8-5, advance to OC finals.

Senior midfielder Brett Nelson had a pair of goals in CDM's 8-5 CIF win over JSerra
 Corona del Mar has advanced to its fourth Orange County Championship game in five years, with an 8-4 win over #4 seed JSerra. The Kings (18-2), behind stellar goaltending from its sophomore netminder Hoyt Crance, outscored the Lions (15-5) 5-1 in the second half and will face #3 St. Margaret's on Wednesday for the championship.

The first half of the game was characterized by solid defense by both teams, with JSerra using a variety of schemes to slow down the CDM offense.

"I thought JSerra did a good job of using multiple defenses tonight," commented CDM head coach G.W. Mix. "Each time they switch from one to another, we would have to adjust and then run the appropriate set. That takes time and patience and eats at the clock. I thought we got some good looks. We missed a few opportunities in the first half."

Despite the adjustments and the time lost, Sea Kings still seemed to be missing a beat at the offensive end.

"There is no doubt having Jack (Ortlieb/Sr./Attack) back in the lineup took some time for everyone to get in rhythm. We have not had him in the offense for two weeks and it showed early. After a few quarters, it all started to come back together for them. We new there would be miscues early. They did a good job of fighting through it."

Ortlieb (2g,1a) was injured in CDM's 12-11 overtime loss to St. Margaret's on April 27 and had not played in any of the four games since.

Senior attackman Casey Mix opened the scoring for the Sea Kings, netting an unassisted goal with 7:52 remaining in the first period. The score would remain 1-0 at the end of the quarter.

The Lions would tie the game early in the second quarter, but with 5:16 remaining in the half, Mix took a pass from sophomore midfielder Ben Palitz, dodged hard from the wing and beat the JSerra goalie to the top left corner to put CDM back on top 2-1.

JSerra took advantage of a thirty second off-sides penalty on the Kings and tied the game at 2-2 with 3:19 left before the break.

After a Lions turnover with less than 15 seconds remaining, Hoyt Crance found his brother Hugh on an outlet pass upfield. The sophomore defenseman threw cross-field to Ortlieb just inside midfield. And then the impossible happened. Ortlieb set his feet and took a last second, desperation shot at the cage from 33 yards out, and it went it. That's right 33 yards, and it went in. CDM led 3-2 at the half.

"That was fortunate for us. Can't say I've ever seen that before. I felt badly for the JSerra goalie. I'm glad we scored enough later in the game to make that goal less of a factor, so he could move on from that one a little easier."

Four minutes into the second half, JSerra would tie the score at 3-3, but less than two minutes later, senior midfielder Brett Nelson (2g,0a) dodged from up top and ripped a shot into the upper right corner to give CDM a 4-3 lead at the 6:21 mark.

It would not take the Lions long to even the score again. With 4:39 left, they took advantage of a substitution error by the Sea Kings and converted the play to get to 4-4. The scoreboard remained unchanged for the rest of the quarter.

With 9:32 left, Chris Von Der Ahe (Sr./Midfield) found Ortlieb in a seam in the Lion zone and the senior put a bounce shot past the goalie to give the top-seed a 5-4 lead, one they would not relinquish.

Three minutes later, Nelson dodged from up top and found sophomore midfielder Max Kline (1g,0a)  on a front swing cut to the crease and the Kings led 6-4.

Off the ensuing face-off, junior face-off specialist Kaden Ebbinga chased a loose ball for several blocks, gained possession, and fed Mix on another quick cut to the crease and CDM had a 7-4 lead with 5:58 to go.

"Kaden gets better every day. He has a motor and a work ethic like no other. He played a huge role in this win tonight."

Less than a minute later, after good ball movement by the Kings' offense, evading a series of double-teams by JSerra, Mix(3g,1a) found Nelson on a cut to the crease for an 8-4 lead with 4:48 left.

A minute later, the Lions would score to get within 3, but 8-5 would be the game's final score.

With the win, CDM advances to its second straight Orange County Championship game appearance, its fourth in five years. They will face a red hot St. Margaret's (19-4) team who defeated #2 seed Foothill 19-6 in the second semi-final.

"We have our hands full with St. Margaret's. They completely dismantled a very good Foothill team last night. We are looking forward to the challenge."

CDM faces St. Margaret's on Wednesday evening at 7:30 PM at Mission Viejo High School.