The Garces girls soccer team hoped that having a strong wind at its back in the second half would help breathe some life into its struggling offensive attack on Tuesday night.
Unfortunately for the Rams, it didn't.
Instead the winds of fortune blew the way of Westlake Village-Oaks Christian, which scored twice during the final 40 minutes and claimed a 2-0 CIF Southern California Regional Championships Division III first round victory over Garces at Sam Tobias Field.
Alexander Bruder and Amber Goldberg scored goals four minutes apart as the No. 4 Lions (20-4-1) took the first step in winning a third-straight So Cal regional title.
Oaks Christian improved to 19-1 in post-season games over the past three seasons. Its lone playoff loss was a 3-1 setback to Pasadena Poly in the Southern Section Division V semifinals last week.
"They're a great team," Garces coach Myka Peck said. "We knew coming in we were going to be facing one of the toughest opponents we faced all year. We just needed to step up our game and try to match their physicality and how well they played the game."
Fifth-seeded Garces (14-9-1) finished was limited to just two shots on goal, one in each half. Neither attempt caused Oaks Christian goal keeper Sydney Socquet much alarm as she was able to make easy saves.
On the other hand, Garces goal-keeper Kate Hamilton was under fire constantly. The Lions had 13 shots on goal, forcing her to make several sprawling saves just to keep the Rams in the game.
"Kate Hamilton is one of the most special goal keepers I've ever coached," Peck said.
After a scoreless first half, Oaks Christian finally broke through in 57th minute when Bruder blasted a left-footed shot from 25 yards into the top-middle part of the goal.
Less than a minute after Bruder's goal, Hamilton made a spectacular save on a header from point-blank range by Mallory Kahrilas.
That near-miss was soon followed by Goldberg's goal.
The senior midfielder got possession of the ball just outside of the box on the right side and then drilled a low line drive just inside the far post.
"I thought the girls played really well today," Oaks Christian coach Sebastian Alvarado said. "They played hard, especially that second half. Credit to Garces. I thought for a young team they played really hard. They didn't quit. Even when we got those goals in the second half they were still coming at us."
It was only the second time this season Garces allowed as many as two goals. The Rams hadn't given up a goal in six games.
"They broke us down twice," Peck said. "You have to give credit when a team is good, and that's a great team. It was just great experience for our girls. (We have) only two seniors. You want them to play on this stage and get better."
Garces came into the game on a roll, having won 12 of its previous 13 games. The Rams posted 10 shutouts while outscoring opponents 49-4 in that span, which included a 4-0 victory over Sanger for the Central Section Division II title.
The Rams began the season by losing their first six games.
"I couldn't be more proud (of my team)," Peck said. "They bought in. We were 0-6. Most teams would quit on you. And (this year's Rams) just kept building and trying to get better. And it came. They won a Valley championship. So you can't take away their effort. But I know this loss will sting for them because they're a competitive group."