They’re going to the big show!
South Pasadena High’s girls’ soccer team was triumphant in its semifinal contest against Los Amigos of Fountain Valley on Tuesday night, and now that the 4-0 victory is in the books, the Tigers can concentrate on winning their first CIF-Southern Section title since 2003.
Up next in the finals is Westminister High to be played Friday, March 2 with a 5pm kickoff at Warren High School in Downey. For now, Tigers’ coach Victoria Lathrop and her team are in a celebratory mood after the decisive win over the Lobos, played at a neutral site – chilly Garden Grove High School – where the game time temperature for the 5 p.m. start was 51 degrees.
“They have earned it,” said Lathrop about her team. “I don’t know of another team that puts up four goals in a semifinal match…I mean that was dominance from the whistle.”
South Pasadena held a 1-0 lead at the half on a Uma Hornish goal and tallied three more times in the final 40 minutes of play on goals by Emily Dunn, Rainey Tilley and a final one by Hornish, which prompted smiles up and down the Tigers’ bench as an enthusiastic Lathrop beamed, telling no one in particular, “We got this one, we got this one!”
The Tigers took nine shots on goal and South Pasadena goalies Noemi Howland and Sophie Reynolds made their presence known, combining for eight saves on the night. Midway through the second half, Reynolds went out of the game after colliding with a Lobos’ player and suffering an injury. It marked the 22nd time South Pasadena has held a team scoreless in a remarkable season under the guidance of Lathrop, the second year coach who has the Tigers playing at a super high, off the charts level.
With Tuesday’s victory, South Pas, the Rio Hondo League champs, improved to 19-3-3 on the season and completely stopped a Los Amigos team, which finished its season with a 14-6-5 mark. Lathrop credited the Lobos for reaching the semis, saying, “They worked their butt off to get here as well.” But clearly, South Pasadena was the better team.
A key to the Tigers’ victory was stopping the Lobos’ Vidalia Abarca, who had recorded 54 goals coming into the contest. Lathrop knew by putting the clamps on No. 11, it would be difficult for Los Amigos to get any momentum going. She was right. The Tigers’ defense locked down hard on her from the start and nullified one of the top players in Southern California from scoring.
On the other side, there was plenty for the Tigers as Hornish busted free on a breakaway to get South Pasadena on the board with about 19 minutes gone in the game. Dunn launched a shot from about 35 yards out that found the left corner of the net with 29 minutes to go in the second half to make it 2-0. Tilley, on an assist by Dunn, booted in goal just in front of the net with about 20 minutes left in the contest and in the closing two minutes Hornish booted in the Tigers’ final score on a 20-yard shot, the ball just getting under the arms of the falling Lobos’ goalie.
“There’s a storied legacy to this program and they’re excited to put down their name as part of it,” said a proud Lathrop of her team. “We want to be apart of that legacy and get it done.”
Getting it done means bringing home a CIF-SS Division 5 girls soccer championship to South Pasadena. The Tigers are just one win away.
“This is an amazing group of athletes, an amazing group of girls,” said Lathrop. “They excel on the field on and off of it. I’m just so proud to be a part of what they are doing this year and so blessed that they bought in to what I brought in in my second season.”
Now she and her players just want to keep the party going. “It feels great,” summed up the coach.