All games at William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center, Irvine
YORBA LINDA (20-4) VS. PACIFICA (20-10), 10:30 a.m.
Outlook: One of these Empire League schools will claim its first section title. Both are in the finals for the first time. Top-seeded Yorba Linda and Coach Jeff Gorman, pictured left, have reached the section’s big splash in only its third season as a varsity program. The Mustangs defeated visiting Pacifica, 15-9, on Feb. 7 en route to its first league crown. Yorba Linda led, 11-3, at halftime. Jessica Castellano, Taylor Leach and Taylor Best combined for 12 goals in another balanced scoring effort while Rebecca Stephenson racked up 13 saves.
It was an especially sweet victory for Yorba Linda since Pacifica defeated Yorba Linda, 12-11, for the league title last season on a full-court shot by goalie Melissa Thorn at the end of double, sudden-death overtime.
Yorba Linda also impressed because Leach and Castellano are the only key seniors. The Mustangs feature a strong junior class.
Thorn is now a senior and has delivered another strong season with 365 saves. She remains one of the top uncommitted seniors.
Like Yorba Linda, Pacifica was a title contender at the start of the season. But the Mariners were slowed early by injuries. Leading scorer Kassie Winn (108 goals) dealt with a back injury while Caroline Thorn (62 goals) encountered a shoulder issue. Pacifica is now full strength. “I feel in the past few weeks, we’ve been playing better,” Pacifica coach Eric Anderson said after the league showdown at Yorba Linda.