IRVINE — The Corona del Mar High girls' lacrosse team tried to accomplish one first and take a big step toward another Monday afternoon.
The Sea Kings have never beaten Beckman at the Patriots' field. They also have never won an outright Pacific Coast League title.
"We felt like this could be the year," said eighth-year CdM Coach Aly Simons. "We still have games to play in league, but we felt like [this game] was the biggest hurdle to winning league."
Corona del Mar failed to leap that hurdle Monday.
On tax day, the Sea Kings couldn't get the return they were looking for on the field, to stay in outright possession of first place.
The Patriots finished strong and earned a 13-11 upset victory at Beckman High that means the teams will likely share the league title for the third time in five seasons. They also shared it in 2012 and '14.
Tradition was clearly on the mind of the Patriots (8-5, 6-1 in league), especially seniors like Janice Shih. Beckman earned the victory despite being ranked just No. 9 in Orange County — CdM is No. 5 — and losing the first league game against the Sea Kings, 10-4, on March 31.
In that game, Beckman was shut out in the second half. But on Monday, the Patriots flipped the script, holding CdM (10-2, 6-1) to just one goal for the final 16:59 of the game.
"We haven't lost a league championship yet," said Shih, who scored twice for Beckman. "We wanted to keep the legacy going. A lot was on the line this game, and I'm glad we were able to pull through ... Beckman has a way of upsetting and coming back from deficits. It's something that I think is really special about our team.
" Senior co-captain Paige Nelson had four goals and an assist for CdM, which played without its leading scorer and arguably best all-around player, junior Kennedy Mulvaney. She was in street clothes with crutches after suffering a right leg injury during Saturday's Battle of the Bay win, and offered encouragement from the sidelines.
"She's one of our big-impact players, and having her out definitely affected our draw controls and our offense," Simons said. "But you know, we have a lot of depth this year. We're not a one-player team.
" The game was back and forth most of the way, with the home team earning an 8-7 halftime lead. On a warm afternoon, the referees agreed to let the teams have a 10-minute break for halftime, instead of the usual seven.
CdM tied the score twice early in the second half on goals by senior Caroline Bethel and Nelson, then took a 10-9 lead — its only one of the second half — on another goal by Nelson with 16:59 remaining.
"Look at Paige," CdM assistant coach Jessica Murray instructed Kennedy McGuinness on a free position. McGuinness did, feeding Nelson for the go-ahead goal.
It was short-lived. Beckman scored four straight goals in a seven-minute stretch to take control. First it was a pair of goals by freshman Carly Tobias, then Sarah Brunel and Molly Allen added their first goals of the contest. Allen's goal, on a free-position shot with 10:28 remaining, gave Beckman a 13-10 lead.
CdM was unable to control the draws in the second half, doing so just twice in nine opportunities after winning 11 of 16 in the first half. Beckman freshman Brooke Williams, who scored a team-best four goals, also led everyone with six draw controls.
"I think the girls did not lack desire," Simons said. "I think the heat got to them. They were tired, and I think that we for some reason struggled with the conditions of the field. It's a lot harder turf than we're used to ... More than anything, we had a big game on Saturday and we played tired. Whether it was the heat, I don't know."
Bethel picked up a loose ball in front of the goal and scored with 7:14 left, narrowing CdM's deficit to 13-11. But the Sea Kings couldn't get closer. Twice in the final minutes, shots hit off the goal post, or Beckman senior goalie Lili Hamada was there to make a couple of her six saves.
Jensen Coop scored twice for CdM, with senior co-captains Courtney Johnston and McGuinness adding goals, as did freshman Ellery Amdor. Junior Katie McCabe had a good all-around game with a team-best two caused turnovers and two ground balls, the latter stat tied for the team lead with Bethel and senior defender Lauren Kobayashi. Sophomore goalie Ashley Olson made five saves.
Simons said CdM hopes to get Kennedy Mulvaney back for Friday's big nonleague clash against Foothill at home. The rival Knights are ranked No. 3 in Orange County.
Three more league games also remain, and the Sea Kings also can't lose focus or overlook University on Wednesday, or Northwood (April 25) and Irvine (April 28).
"It's fuel," Simons said of Monday's loss, and Nelson agreed. "I think it'll keep us from resting on our laurels," Nelson said. "It'll kick us into gear. We do need to work that much harder in practice. We do need to put 150% effort into the game ... hopefully we'll come back even stronger next game."