Edison High girls' soccer coach Kerry Crooks knew the challenge her team would go up against in Saturday's CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship game.
Not only did her Chargers have to face a talented Santa Margarita team, but had to do so without their top scorer.
Edison's bid to win the program's third Southern Section title, and first since 2002, fell short at Corona High. The 10th-ranked Chargers fell, 3-0, to the fifth-ranked Eagles.
Despite the loss, Edison joined Santa Margarita in the CIF Southern California Regional Girls' Soccer Championships. The Chargers lost at Torrey Pines (CIF San Diego Section), 4-1, in a Division 1 first-round game Tuesday.
Crooks said the Southern California Regional appearance was a first for the Edison program.
Tuesday's winner advances to a second-round game Thursday.
"We're excited for the regional tournament," Crooks said before the game. "It's an honor for our program."
Santa Margarita (15-3-4) took the early lead Saturday and went on to win the program's first title in 12 years.
The Trinity League champion Eagles received first-half goals from Maggie Ghotbi and Taylor Klawunder (penalty kick), and a late goal in the second half by Kassidy Gorman, to take the crown.
Edison (12-6-4) played without its leading scorer, senior forward MacKenzie Cerda, who was injured late in the Chargers' 1-0 semifinal victory March 4 over third-ranked Foothill. Crooks said that Cerda suffered what later was diagnosed as a lacerated liver.
The UCLA-bound standout was on hand to support her teammates at Saturday's title game.
Cerda had scored five of Edison's six goals in postseason play.
"Obviously, losing MacKenzie was a big blow," Crooks said. "We went from a super-high, getting to CIF finals, to a super-low after learning of her injury. It was a huge loss but I though our girls handled everything really well. They were bummed that she was out, but they were more concerned with her being OK. That was everyone's main concern, that she was OK. This is a great group of girls and they have their heads on straight.
"Santa Margarita's a very talented group. It was hard enough to face them, but without MacKenzie, we knew we had to play a really good game and sneak in a quick score. We weren't able to score early."
During Saturday's Division 1 final, Edison didn't have one senior player on the field.
"Being in the championship was such a great experience for these youth players," Crooks said. "They know what it takes to get to a final, and what it takes to win a final. This team has great promise."
Edison, which captured the Sunset League championship, made its way to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 title game by defeating Rosary (1-1, advanced, 4-3, on penalty kicks), ninth-ranked Capistrano Valley (1-0), No. 2-seed Aliso Niguel (2-0) and No. 3-seed Foothill (1-0).
Edison senior forward Connor Gordon has been named the Most Valuable Player on the 2014 All-Sunset League boys' soccer team.