One of them made controlling the midfield look effortless, speeding past the opposition to set up scoring chances for herself and others.
One of them offered invaluable leadership in the back as a sweeper, as well as booming free kicks that also set up scoring chances.
Without Annie Alvarado and Sydney Raguse, the Corona del Mar High girls' soccer team doesn't have its most successful year in Coach Bryan Middleton's 10-year tenure. Having them on the Newport-Mesa Dream Team was a no-brainer.
You could say Alvarado was the best offensive player in the area, and Raguse was the best defensive player. Both are repeat Dream Team selections.
This year, they share the Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year honor.
Alvarado, a junior who committed to UCLA last November, was deadly in the open field. As a center midfielder, she led Corona del Mar (22-3-2) with 13 goals and added seven assists. She helped the Sea Kings win their second straight outright league title, and also win a tournament for the first time under Middleton. CdM won the Los Tacos Holiday Tournament at Flintridge Sacred Heart in December.
"Her striking ability on the ball was very proficient," Middleton said of Alvarado, who was also a deadly set-piece specialist on free kicks. She even took corner kicks for the first time, and was able to serve the ball with great accuracy.
"She's a very sound central midfield player," Middleton said. "She has phenomenal technical ability on the ball, and ability to see the field."
Alvarado, who has grown several inches since her freshman year, was a first-team All-Pacific Coast League selection for the second straight year, as well as an All-CIF Southern Section Division 1 pick. She and Raguse were both all-tournament team selections at the Butch Lee Memorial Classic tournament in San Diego.
Raguse, who was a fixture on defense for CdM in her four-year varsity career, was the Sea Kings' other All-CIF selection. The University of Michigan-bound Raguse brought stability on the back line, even as senior goalie Sarah Cox was injured in the early season and sophomore Kendall Mulvaney filled in admirably.
Raguse scored four goals this year, all coming off corner kicks. But she was just as comfortable serving up beautiful free kicks for her teammates.
"Any ball within five yards of the midfield, she was able to hit it all the way into the box," Middleton said.
Raguse, the Pacific Coast League Defensive MVP and one of four team captains, helped Corona del Mar earn the No. 1 seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. CdM fell to Santa Margarita, 1-0, in the quarterfinals.
Raguse and Alvarado also are club teammates on Legends Breakaway, along with CdM teammates Amanda Stephenson and Karsten Sigband. In the high school season, they helped the Sea Kings accomplish big things.
"CdM girls' soccer has never won a tournament before, so that in itself was a huge deal for us," Raguse said. "We set goals for ourselves, and we reached them. In the beginning, when we set goals, we always make sure they're hard to reach. When we accomplished them, it was a big deal for us."
CdM was ranked in the top 10 nationally for much of the season. At one point, the Sea Kings had a 15-game winning streak and 18-game unbeaten streak. They accomplished three of their four goals by winning the Battle of the Bay, winning a tournament and accomplishing an unbeaten league season.
"I think that we definitely had some high expectations, getting ranked really high in the beginning," Alvarado said. "It was a little bit scary at first, but we handled it well. We took it game-by-game. We had our four goals, but we were never looking ahead. We had to complete each goal, one-by-one ... We came up short in CIF, but I think we worked extremely hard and had a good finish."
Here's a look at the other 12 players on the 2011-12 Newport-Mesa Dream Team:
Corona del Mar