South Pasadena High’s league-leading girls’ soccer team finishes the regular season Tuesday afternoon when they play at Temple City with title hopes on the line.
The Tigers can seal the deal and wind up with the Rio Hondo League championship with victory over the Rams.
South Pas enters the key matchup at 5-1-1 in league, 15-3-3 overall, followed by San Marino at 4-3 (10-5-1), La Canada 3-1-2 (9-5-4), Temple City 2-4 (6-12-2), and Monrovia 0-5-1 (4-8-5).
The Tigers helped themselves inch closer to winning the crown with a 0-0 tie against La Canada last Friday. Goalkeepers Sophie Reynolds and Noemi Howland had 4 and 2 saves, respectively, in the contest.
Both were solid in the net. In the first half, Reynolds made a diving save and took two cleats by an opposing player. In the second half, Howland made a huge stop on a Spartans’ free kick that just missed right of the the 18-yard box. “Both of them gave it their all and I’m really proud of them,” said South Pasadena High coach Victoria Lathrop of her goalies.
The Tigers’ coach expected a solid effort from La Canada, which was fighting for a playoff berth. “I did not expect it to be such a physical match that I personally feel got out of hand due to some poor referees and poor player choices,” said Lathrop.
She said her team never found its rhythm in the scoreless contest, but credited Tiger defenders for coming up with a solid performance. “I will admit we came out a bit flat,” said Lathrop, noting “the defensive midfield, backline and goalkeepers gave everything they had not giving up a goal. They really kept us in the match.”
A tie is far better than a loss, especially when the Tigers are in a position to win the championship. “Would I have loved the win? Of course, but with a tie we are still in a good place in the standings and we made it out in one piece minus some bumps and bruises courtesy of the Spartans,” added Lathrop. “We didn’t give up a goal and having beat and then a draw with La Cañada we can at least be happy we didn’t concede a game to them this season. Not sure when the last time that happened, but we’re proud of it.”
Coming into the match, Lathrop knew the Spartans like “to play the ball long to their strikers and if given a free kick they like a quick restart,” she explained. “We did a good job of winning any long balls sent down into our defensive third with our backline taking possession to either find one of our midfield players or allowing our outside back to carry the ball up field to relief that pressure.”
Added Lathrop, “we could have done a better job of winning 50/50 balls in the midfield to counter attack but instead we found ourselves having to play more defense in that area.”
Following Tuesday’s match against the Rams, the Tigers will begin preparing for the postseason. The CIF-Southern Section playoffs begin next week.