Everything was in perfect order.
It was a 90-degree day on the last Saturday in September and the Blue Angels were screaming across the sky at the Miramar Air Show across Highway 15 from the field hockey tournament.
Renamed the Berger Invitational for its 45th version, it looked all too familiar with host Canyon Hills High playing rival Scripps Ranch in yet another championship match.
This time, Canyon Hills was able to prevail 1-0 over the Falcons thanks to Venassa Orlina-Mincey’s second-half goal.
“Usually, we’ll take any kind of goal against Scripps,” Orlina-Mincey said. “We were really pushing to get the first goal and put the pressure on them.”
The win, the third shutout Saturday for the Rattlers (13-0), meant they remained undefeated this season.
Canyon Hills blanked Huntington Beach Edison (5-0) and Poway (2-0) to reach the finals.
Scripps Ranch shut out Rancho Bernardo (4-0) and beat Canyon Crest in penalty shots to earn another meeting with Canyon Hills, the first of what is expected to be four encounters this season counting a possible playoff match.
The next meeting comes Wednesday in a Western League match on the same field.
The second regular-season meeting is Oct. 14 at Scripps Ranch.
“It always helps to win that first meeting,” said first-year Canyon Hills coach Kat Keivens. “But there’s a lot of pressure during the whole game.”
Senior Mia Clarke of Canyon Hills was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
But in her third and final championship game, Clarke and the other seniors pondered playing in their last final on campus.
“In the past, we’d get to the point where we got tired and we’d give up,” said the Stanford-bound Clarke, last year’s San Diego Section player of the year. “It hasn’t hit me that this is my last tournament.
“Sometimes, I look forward and try not to think about it all coming to an end, but it does feel nice to get a confidence booster right now, especially with another meeting them in a few days.
“This isn’t the highlight of the season. It’s only a starting point.”
Orlina-Mincey’s goal — which came on a pass from Cameron Ward who got a pass from Hannah Dunfee — just 5:50 into the second half, about four minutes after Scripps Ranch (9-2) just missed a tip-in goal at the near corner.
Rattlers goalie Ryan Robinson managed to keep the ball out of the cage for one of her two saves in the game.
“The whole team was talking before the final about how this was the last tournament for the seniors,” Orlina-Mincey said. “It’s really sad. I’m just really glad it happened this way.”
Clark scored a goal two minutes into the first half, but it was nullified because it was launched too high and struck the netting inside the cage.
Scripps Ranch goalie Kylee Del Monte had five saves.
Besides Clarke being the MVP, teammate Sofia Abraham was named the top offensive player with Sofia Carniglia named the top defensive player and Kylee Del Monte chosen as the top goalie.
Bethany Nishiyama, Orlina-Mincey and Dunfee were also named all-tournament for Canyon Hills along with Grace Reed, Cassidy Lacey, Kaelynn Del Monte and her twin sister Kylee and Carniglia from Scripps Ranch.
SEPT. 24, 2022 10:11 PM PT
Monahan is a freelance writer.