It took South Pasadena High’s girls’ soccer team just one goal to get past Temple City Tuesday afternoon and with it claim the Rio Hondo League championship.
After the 1-0 victory, beaming South Pasadena players and coaches celebrated their first league crown since the 2011-2012 season. They’ll now set their goals higher to win a CIF-Southern Section Division 5 title when the playoffs get underway next week.
For, now however, the Tigers will simply soak in their enormous achievement of what they just accomplished.
“It feels amazing,” said South Pasadena High coach Victoria Lathrop after the close contest. “This team deserves nothing less. They sat down back in September and mapped out their team goals. They wanted to finish in the top two spots in league and earn a playoff berth. They accomplished that tonight and the championship is a sweet addition. It wasn’t our prettiest goal or game, but they worked hard for the full 80 minutes and that’s all I could ask them to do.”
The Tigers put their only point on the board in the first half on an unassisted goal by Lorraine Tilley. It took another solid defensive effort by Lathrop’s team to hold the Rams scoreless. South Pasadena goalie Noemi Howland had one save in the first half and Sophie Reynolds had a pair in the second half.
“We knew coming into the game that the natural grass and smaller field size of Temple City High School can be challenging even for the best of teams,” explained Lathrop. “Credit to Temple City. They know how to use that field to their advantage and they never backed off on their offensive attack. Our goal was to get on the scoreboard in the first half, and after several offensive plays Tilley came up huge for us.”
During halftime, Tiger coaches made some key adjustments. “We asked them to focus on keeping their composure and encouraged them to continue to work together to keep Temple City from gaining any rhythm offensively,” explained the Tigers’ coach. “Again, credit to Temple City, they almost tied it up with about a minute left in regulation but Sophie Reynolds made a beautiful diving save to keep the clean sheet and secure the victory for us. Every single Tiger gave it all they had today to get this win and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
While the regular season is over for South Pasadena, the other four teams in the league play again on Thursday. La Cañada travels to San Marino in a key matchup as both are fighting for second place and a CIF playoff berth. Monrovia will host Temple City to close out their 2017-18 campaigns.
“So, we’ll enjoy a day or two off, but do some light training later in the week,” explained the Tigers’ coach.
Following Tuesday’s win, the players talked about what it means to be league champs again. “Bringing the Rio Hondo League Championship back to SPHS means the world to me and my teammates,” said Harper Fox, a member of the squad. “After four years on the varsity team, it feels terrific to end my soccer career at SPHS with the title.”
Fox described the Tigers’ CIF-Southern Section playoff-bound team as “fierce” when it takes on every opponent. “We dominated during preseason and have successfully gone on to take the league championship. Under Coach Tori and Coach Dan’s guidance, the team has bonded and truly learned to trust one another on the field. We are out there for one another, and it’s been a privilege to play alongside my teammates.”
The Tigers knew going into Tuesday’s game they could win it all with a victory over Temple City. They finished the league campaign with a 6-1-1 record, 16-3-3 overall. With the loss Temple City is now 2-6, 6-14-2.
Said Lathrop, “from here on out it’s ‘win and stay in’ – we’ll do the same as we have this season and take it one match at a time.” South Pasadena, currently ranked No. 2 in CIF-Southern Section Division 5, is now waiting to to hear who it will face first in the playoffs. Division rankings, playoff brackets and schedules are expected to be release Sunday night or Monday morning. “We’ll just have to wait to see who we are paired with and then do our homework to prepare for the first round match,”