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Templeton was the sharper team in the second half on a chilly Tuesday night.

The Eagles' reward was a 1-0 win over Santa Maria in a big Ocean League girls soccer game at Santa Maria's Ralph Baldiviez Stadium.

Emily Puita worked her way open, took a pass from Siena Sagely and fired a shot high into the net in the 13th minute after the break for the only score.

Templeton (14-4-2, 7-1) stayed in the hunt for the inaugural Ocean League championship. The Saints (11-9-2, 7-3) lost a chance at at least a tie for the championship in their regular season finale.

The Eagles won by the same count Tuesday night that they edged the Saints by in the first half of league play. That game, in a scheduling switch, was also at Santa Maria, in the afternoon. The reason for the switch was unknown.

Under CIF Central Section guidelines, any team that does not win a league championship can petition to get into the playoffs and, "I think we've already done that," said Santa Maria coach Cristian Alvarez.

"We're just waiting to see who we play." Santa Maria is in Division III. Templeton is in Division IV. The Saints can finish no worse than third place.

Orcutt Academy went to 7-2 in the Ocean League with a 2-0 win at Morro Bay Tuesday.

The Eagles will play a 6 p.m. league game at Mission Prep Thursday before hosting Orcutt at 6 p.m. Friday in the regular season finale for both teams.

As for what happened in the second half at Santa Maria Tuesday, "To me, it was simple," Alvarez said. "Templeton came out like they knew what was on the line, and they wanted it.

"We came out like ... we didn't deserve to win."

Though the Saints didn't score in the first half - the closest they came was when a 50-yarder by Jessica Gil went about a foot over the top post - Santa Maria was the team that got to the loose balls first, and had most of the prolonged possessions in the first half.

Besides, defenders Gil, Sarah Barbosa and Reyna Ramirez easily covered most of what the Eagles tried in Santa Maria's end the first half.

The trend reversed in the second half. The Eagles were the ones who got to most of the loose balls first. The Saints' passing, crisp for the most part in the first half, went flat in the second.

Templeton picked off several Santa Maria passes after the hreak, and the Saints' defenders often had to scramble in front of goalkeeper Sara Rodriguez though the Eagles only wound up with the one goal.

Rodriguez helped the Saints stay in it by picking the right times to come out of the goal mouth and go after the ball. She just had no chance to stop Puita's scoring shot.

Templeton goalkeeper Makaila Landes was adept herself at picking the right time to come out her goalmouth the few times the Saints were able to get the ball past the Eagles' back defensive line in the second half.

Usually, the Saints couldn't get past the wall of Sagely, Grace Alsup and Caitlyn Chesson, who effectively massed in front of Landes, after the break.

Sagely effectively quarterbacked the offense from the midfield area, and the Saints had some trouble knocking the Eagles' attackers off the ball.

The Eagles nearly had a second goal. Merran Grindley's right-to-left shot went just wide left.

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Sports Reporter