In two words, a quiet spoken Juan Zurita described how he feels about a team that went deep into the CIF-Southern Section soccer playoffs this season.
The Tigers went Quarterfinal deep. Nearly CIF championship level deep. Oh so close, too close to a huge celebration deep.
“Very proud,” summed up the South Pasadena High coach, looking back on the season, especially the play of his team in Saturday’s loss to Rubidoux of Riverside. Both teams were solid defensively as the game ended 0-0 in regulation, Rubidoux finally winning it 4-3 in penalty shots, 4-3.
South Pasadena pounded the Falcons’ net with 17 shots on goal in regulation, but came up empty. “We dominated the game as well the two 10 minute overtime periods,” said the Tigers coach. “We played and one of its best games in CIF playoffs. It was a great team effort.”
It was a tough way to end it for a team that had so many highs and lows during the course of a season that brought so much prosperity in the end.
“It’s very hard to see our seniors playing their last high school soccer game,” said Zurita, as well to the rest of players who worked so hard this season. We accomplished a lot and just came up a little short.”
Zurita said he’s going to miss departing senior Jack Renken, who led the team with 23 goals this season. He also credited senior Hank Rainey, the team’s captain and strong defender, goalie Jack Gallaher and players Craig Parker, David SungHyun Choi and Andrew Yonami for their standout play.
South Pas, the third place finisher behind Monrovia and La Canada in Rio Hondo league play, finished the season with an impressive 15-6-4 record. They were 44-2 in league while the Wildcats were 9-1-0 and the Spartans had a 7-1-2 mark.
To reach the quarterfinals, South Pasadena opened the postseason with a triple overtime victory overtime victory over Valley Christian and followed that up with two more wins, beating Crean Luteran 2-1, Riverside Prep 3-0, before facing Rubidoux.
Zurita was quick to point out that much of the Tigers’ support this season came from those sitting in the stands. “We had very good group of parents and friends rooting for the boys all season,” he said. “It was great.”