On a night the temperature dipped into the low 40s, the South Pasadena High School girls soccer team Tuesday traveled to Maranatha High School in Pasadena and defeated the Minutemen 3-0. The victory qualifies Coach Victoria Lathrop’s side for a CIF quarterfinal matchup this evening at home against Beaumont High School.
An unassisted goal by Corey Siegal and a header by Lorraine Tilley off a cross from Siegal in the first half put the Tigers in control early. Maranatha responded out of the break with a series of threatening through balls.
From their midfield and back line, the Minutemen sent long passes over the Tigers’ defense, gambling that their attackers would win the loose ball.
Up 2-0, it would have been easy for South Pasadena to fall back into their own half and protect their lead. Instead, the girls proved their best defense was a relentless offense.
The Tigers’ midfield began to close more quickly to the ball, too quickly it turned out for Maranatha to continue to set up for deep passes. For the rest of the half, regardless of if the South Pasadena had the ball or not, the girls kept it on Maranatha’s side of the field. The few times the Minutemen were able to get the ball into South Pasadena territory, only Tigers were there to receive it.
South Pasadena put the finishing touches on the game when Emily Dunn found the net with three minutes remaining. A beautiful strike from the left side of the box sent the ball over the goalie’s head and under the top right corner of the goal.
“She is so consistent right now, she’s on fire,” Lathrop said of the midfielder, who scored in the team’s first round game against Glendale last week in the second half to break a 0-0 tie.
Lathrop credits the team’s postseason success to its offensive push between the midfield and attacking line and its impenetrable defense.
Some of the Tigers’ defensive stats this season are eye-popping.
On the year, the girls have outscored opponents 72-5. They allowed only one goal during Rio Hondo League play, and have shut out opponents since Jan. 10.
Lathrop believes her squad is peaking just at the perfect time.
“The girls want it,” she said after Tuesday’s game. “We sat down in August and the girls mapped out their goals for the season. They wanted to finish in the top two of league. But we ended up winning it!
“None of these kids have gone to the postseason before. So it has been my job to explain to them the importance of this opportunity and how exciting it is. They are just taking it all in right now.”
Senior Isabel Bluml said after the game the Tigers are feeding off the novelty of playing deep into February. “The fact that it has been so long since we’ve been to CIF isn’t lost on us,” she said. “It’s really cool to break a losing streak for the program.”
Beaumont is coming off of a 1-0 victory over Schurr High School, a team the Tigers beat 2-0 during preseason. Their top threat will be Alyssa Romero (#22), who leads the team in goals and assists, with 17 and 12, respectively.
Unfortunately for the girls, the weather Friday doesn’t look to be any better than it was Tuesday, with low 40s predicted again for the evening. Hopefully, the Tigers can use the cold as motivation, just as Tilley said her squad did against Maranatha.
“Honestly, the weather was our motivation,” she said. “I just wanted the game to start so I could run around and warm up. The cold kind of stings your throat when you run.”
“And hurts your body when you hit the turf,” Bluml added.
If the Tigers can continue into March, maybe things will start to warm up.