Ott saves the day in epic CIF SoCal clash

Moorpark goalie Emma Ott, center left, holds the championship plaque while being hugged by Mirabella Bickham after defeating Marina to win the CIF Division 3 Southern Regional Championships at Moorpark High School on March 4. Photos by MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers

After surviving 14 rounds of penalty kicks in the biggest game of her life, Emma Ott finally got to savor victory, entirely.

“In that moment, I felt like the whole weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders,” Ott said. “It was absolutely surreal.”

The senior goalkeeper for the Moorpark High girls’ soccer team saved four penalty kicks, and took and drilled one herself, to help the Musketeers defeat Marina of Huntington Beach 11-10 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie through regulation and overtime, for the CIF SoCal Division III regional championship March 4 at home.

Moorpark goalie Emma Ott dives to stop a goal by Marina.

Ott saved Moorpark’s season, over and over and over again, including two penalty kick wins earlier in the postseason. The captain did it one last time in her last match donning the Moorpark green and gold. After the game, her mom, Katie, embraced the goalie of the century.

“She came up to me and let out the biggest, ‘OH, MY GOSH!’ It sounded like she had been holding her breath for days,” Ott said. “She wanted us to win this so badly. She told me she was proud of me and squeezed me really tight. It was a great moment between me and my mom.”

Ott and her mother, Katie, hug after the win. Ott, the Coastal Canyon League Goalie of the Year, said she will consider playing soccer at Moorpark College next season.

The previous weekend, the Musketeers defeated Marina for the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title 2-1 in overtime on a golden goal by sophomore midfielder Zaina Barakat, who also scored the opening goal in the state finale.

Moorpark won section and regional titles in 2017. Now this team is in the conversation for greatest ever in school history.

“It’s something that every player wants to accomplish,” said Ellie Easley, a senior midfielder and captain. “We continually talk about the 2017 team and what they were able to accomplish. I was telling Coach Mikey (Alexander) a few days ago, it’s time to talk about the 2023 team, too.”

Moorpark’s Gianna Foss, right, kicks the ball as Marina’s Erika Torrez provides defense.

Let the celebration continue.

“Honestly, it was the greatest feeling ever. We completed our journey as a group,” said Gabby Beauchemin, a senior center midfielder/forward and captain. “I’m just so proud of my team and am so happy we got the result that we deserved.”



Beauchemin joined the team this year. She was prohibited by her academy team from playing in 2020; COVID-19 wiped out her desire to play a limited schedule as a sophomore; and she focused on track and field last spring.

She will continue playing soccer at Florida Southern College.

“Moorpark girls’ soccer is just taking off,” she said. “I’m excited to see and hear about what happens next season for the girls.”

Lizzeth “Liz” Meza, a junior defender and captain, celebrated with her teammates despite nursing an injury for the final three postseason matches.

“We all play for each other,” Meza said. “We care about each other on and off the field. . . . It’s unbelievable. We all worked together to get this far. It’s unreal. So many emotions were going through my head when we won. It was a great feeling.”

Easley started playing AYSO youth soccer at age 4 alongside Beauchemin with the Galloping Unicorns. They completed their journey as state champions for their hometown high school.

“I was crying on the field. It’s such a bittersweet moment— winning everything but having to let go of everything at the same time,” Easley said. “It was one of the most memorable days of my entire life.”

Ott, born and raised in the Sacramento suburb of Casa Roble, moved to Moorpark before eighth grade. Her brother, Jaxon, 10, plays AYSO VIP soccer. Her sister, Lily, 8, also plays soccer.

Sportsmanship isn’t dead: Ott said Marina goalie Taylee Vo reached out on social media to congratulate the Musketeer on the win and praise Ott’s performance in the final.

Ott and the Musketeers are champions, now and forever.

“It was a perfect way to end the season,” Ott said.

FANCY FOOTWORK—Moorpark’s Lana Zapata keeps the ball away from Marina’s Kiera Miskelly, right, during the Division III regional final last weekend. Zapata is a senior midfielder and forward.

The Moorpark girls’ soccer team runs across the field after defeating Marina.