Ray Solari Stadium was rockin’ Friday night as South Pasadena High’s girls’ soccer team took a giant step toward its goal of winning a CIF-Southern Section title.
The Tigers enjoyed the home field advantage in their fourth postseason match of the season as a large home crowd helped spur on a 2-1 quarterfinal comeback victory over Beaumont.
“We believe that we will win, we believe that we will win…” chants were led by members of Tigers’ boys’ soccer team, enjoying plenty of CIF success of their own after going deep into the playoffs this season.
The raucous crowd never gave up, turning up the noise level when South Pasadena fell behind 1-0 in the first half, forcing the Tigers to battle back, which made some on the team uncomfortable. “After they scored that first goal, I was honestly devastated because we’ve never really played from behind,” said senior Isabel Bluml, who scored the Tigers’ first goal to knot the score at one apiece. “I was really happy when we caught up really fast. We worked so hard and we’ve been playing together for months. I didn’t want it to be because of this one goal (by Beaumont) that we’d lose our composure.”
South Pasadena, not accustomed to being in a deficit, booted in the deciding goal – breaking the tie – late in the second half as Lorraine Tilley, on an assist by Uma Hornish, found the net. “I’m very excited,” said Hornish, when asked about going to the semifinals. “We’ve had a great mindset throughout the playoffs where we keep challenging ourselves to win. We have this ‘we’re going to win attitude,’ which pushes us to just do it. So I think as long as we continue to play this way, anything is possible.”
The victory puts the Tigers, the Rio Hondo League champs with a 19-3-2 overall record, into Tuesday’s semifinal match at Los Amigos High in Fountain Valley. Game time has yet to be decided. With Friday’s loss, Beaumont, second to Hemet in the Mountain Pass League, finished its season with a 18-7-3 mark.
To reach the CIF semis, the Tigers beat Glendale 2-0, Maranatha 3-0 and Beumont, setting up their game against the 14-5-5 Lobos on Tuesday. Los Amigos finished 8-2-0 in the Garden Grove League, in second place behind 10-0 Garden Grove.
The Tigers defense turned in another strong performance against Beaumont as goalkeepers Sophie Reynolds and Noemi Howland, splitting the duties between the first and second half, made two saves apiece.
“I am ecstatic!” exclaimed South Pasadena High coach Victoria Lathrop. “That was a little too dramatic for me in the first half but this team is all heart and determination. We talked about it at halftime and we said, ‘Let’s dig deep, this is what we trained for, we’ve been doing this since August, this is why we’re here.’”
Tilley, one of the smallest players on the team, came up big with the deciding goal, winning plenty of praise from her coach. “That was huge,” said Lathrop about Tilley’s header as the clock ticked down near the end of the game. “I’m excited and I’m proud of what they’ve done.”
When asked how her team will prepare for Los Amigos, Lathrop said, “We just have to stay healthy. We’ll train on Monday after doing our homework this weekend. There are always things we can improve on.”
Friday’s game brought out some who have been part of the Tigers’ soccer success in the past, including Tom Ashby, a former South Pasadena High coach accustomed to winning championships when he guided the team. Ashby has watched South Pasadena throughout the regular season and CIF playoffs this season, providing his own analysis of a club that is flying high.
“I think after we got scored on early, it really got our attention and we played much better defense,” said Ashby of the Tigers’ quarterfinal win. ”It has been since our first league game that we’ve been scored on, and tonight was only the sixth goal scored against us all season, so that’s very impressive. This is a much better defense than any team that I coached when I was here. I think they’re doing a wonderful job, and really turned the game around in our favor.”