MOORPARK – Westlake needed to win Wednesday at Moorpark to avoid going on the road in the opening round of the Southern Section Div. II playoffs. But the Warriors learned another frustrating lesson about how daunting the Marmonte League schedule can be, as their 1-1 tie not only eliminated them from title contention, but relegated them to a likely third-place finish despite suffering only one loss in 14 games. “I don’t remember the last time we won a game here,” said Westlake coach Frank Marino, whose team remained winless in its past four trips to Moorpark. “We can’t seem to get on this field and get a win.” Westlake’s last league road loss came last season, a 1-0 setback at Moorpark (5-4-8, 4-2-7). Since then, the Warriors (9-2-8, 7-1-6) are unbeaten in their past 10 league road matches, but Wednesday’s draw knocked Westlake into a second-place tie with Royal of Simi Valley (12-2-6, 8-1-4), which plays Friday at Thousand Oaks (17-4-4, 9-1-3) to decide the league title. Royal also holds the tiebreaker over the Warriors after snapping Westlake’s 21-game league unbeaten streak with a 2-1 victory Friday. “We played seven games in (the last) week and a half and I think it caught up with us,” Marino said. “But I’m proud of the girls and I’m proud of their effort. We lost one game in league and two (overall) and now we’re getting ready for the playoffs.” Although it will enter the postseason as the league’s fourth-place team, Moorpark demonstrated that it has the potential for a successful playoff run. With Cal-bound junior Kaitlin Paletta returning to the form that earned her league defensive player of the year honors last season following a hamstring injury earlier in the season and a healthy Laura Spivack adding offensive depth, the Musketeers controlled the majority of the run play against Westlake. “They’re the No. 5 team in Div. II, so I think we proved we’re ready (for the playoffs),” said Moorpark coach Frank Paletta, whose team took the lead in the 15th minute when Ariana Martinez scored off Kaitlin Walters’ free kick. “We validated we can play.” Kylie McDonald tied the score in the 32nd minute, settling a pass from Kate Edwards near the top of the penalty box, turning on a Moorpark defender and burying a shot in the lower-right corner of the net. But the Warriors wouldn’t threaten again until midway through the second half, thanks in large part to Kaitlin Paletta controlling the back line by winning balls in the air and closing down several potential Westlake attacks. Paletta nearly gave the Musketeers the lead just before halftime when her 45-yard free kick appeared to be mishandled in the box by goalkeeper Jackie Jacobsen, but the center official ruled the Westlake netminder was knocked down in the box and disallowed the goal. “To get a tie in a game we really could’ve won, in this case I’m really happy,” Frank Paletta said. “I thought their effort was incredible.” Krystin Shanklin had her 20-yard shot hit off the crossbar in the 60th minute for Westlake, which dodged a bullet of its own 10 minutes later when Jacobsen made a diving save to prevent Karissa Lopez’s 18-yard shot from going in the lower-left corner. “They came out on senior night and played hard and it took us a while to match their intensity and effort,” Marino said. “I saw better moments toward the end, which has me encouraged about the playoffs.” [email protected] (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!