It was a loss, but the Irvine Valley women's soccer team showed just how far it has come on Tuesday afternoon in its biggest test so far this season.
The Lasers played right with the top-ranked team in the state, Santiago Canyon, for the first half before the Hawks took over in the second half and earned a 2-0 victory in an Orange Empire Conference match at Irvine Valley.
Santiago Canyon, which was the state runner-up last season, improved its record to 8-0-2 overall and 5-0-1 in conference, while Irvine Valley, which moved up to No. 12 in the state rankings last week, slipped to 6-2-2 overall and 3-2-1 in conference.
"I couldn't be more happy with the performance, effort and energy our team showed today," Irvine Valley Coach Joe Supe said.
Jenny Konishi nearly opened the scoring for Santiago Canyon in the fourth minute, but IVC freshman goalie Shannon Duffy made a diving save.
In the 21st minute, Santiago Canyon's Andrea Najera had a shot that sailed over the crossbar.
IVC had one other good chance in the first half, but freshman midfielder Wendy Rendon's header off a free kick by Salazar was saved by Santiago Canyon keeper Djuna Santoyo.
Santiago Canyon was on the attack right away in the second half.
Konishi had a shot at point-blank range that Duffy made a save on.
Then Najera hit a shot that clipped the top of the bar and went over.
But in the 60th minute, Santiago Canyon put a goal on the board.
Amanda Gomez sent a cross from the right side to the middle and Najera was in the right spot to one-time a shot in.
Eight minutes later, Gomez got loose in the box. Her shot hit the near post and bounced away.
Santiago Canyon made it a 2-0 game in the 78th minute when Monica Ramirez got a hold of a loose ball and sent a high shot from outside just under the crossbar and into the net.
Duffy ended up making nine saves in goal for the Lasers, while Santoyo made three saves for Santiago Canyon.
"The girls played a fantastic first half and I think we ran out of steam a little bit in the second half," Supe said. "We were also missing a couple of players that could have really helped us. Hopefully we can be even better against them next time."
IVC plays again on Friday at Santa Ana at 3 p.m.