Despite stumbling in the last games of the regular season where the South Pasadena High School varsity girls soccer team dropped three of four matches, the girls recaptured their previous form and beat back a very tough Temple City squad, 1-0, to earn sole possession of first place in Rio Hondo League.
“I couldn’t be prouder of them,” head coach Tory Lathrop said in an email to The Review. “The Tigers are the sole 2019 Rio Hondo Champions.”
The Temple City (TC) game was the last of the regular season and the Tigers had to win it if they had a chance to capture the title. That happened because San Marino and Monrovia dueled to a draw, 2-2, the same night the Tigers were victorious against Temple City. The Tigers finish the season with a 5-2-1 record and in first place.
The Tigers scored on a shot by Rainey Tilley with an assist by Uma Hornish in the first half.
“It was a beautiful first-half goal,” Lathrop said. “Uma Hornish beat the Temple City outside defender down the flank and crossed it to Rainey Tilley, who slotted it into the back of the net.”
The victory over the Rams was a unified team effort. There was the tough defensive play of the Tigers, who dug down deep to keep TC out of the net. And, although the Tigers only scored one goal, the constant offensive pressure on the Rams defense helped wear them down.
“We would tally 13 shots on the goal and that forced the TC goal keeper to make 10 saves,” Lathrop said. “This team dug deep tonight to keep TC on their heels and our backline put forth an amazing effort to keep any TC offensive attacks short and ineffective.”
Tigers Goalie Noemi Howland had 14 saves in the shutout win.
There was a moment in the season where it looked like the Tigers’ fast start with a tie and three straight wins was going to go for naught as they proceeded to drop three of four.
Lathrop was unsure why her team was struggling but she said the girls were a good unit and just had to re-energize to get back on track. That they did and now are crowned league champs.
In other news, the varsity boys soccer team is also headed to the CIF postseason and it, too, had to reverse a losing trend to get there.
In fact, it was more severe for the boys than what the girls had to face. The boys had to sweep the final five games to ensure they were going to extend their season. And that’s exactly what they did.
“I’m pretty happy,” head coach Juan Zurita said after the boys whipped Temple City, 4-2. “As I told the boys, if you want to go to CIF you have to win the next five games and they did. They are a good team. They started playing fast, scoring fast, and were putting pressure on the other teams. They did really well.”
The winning streak moved the team up from fourth place to second place in the Rio Hondo League standings. The streak began with a win over San Marino, 1-0; then it was La Cañada, 5-0; Monrovia, 3-1; Blair, 9-0 and finally, TC, 4-2.
However, Zurita said, now the fun really begins because the CIF postseason requires a different approach to each game than the regular season does.
“We need to start channeling a little more of the mentality of CIF,” he said. “It requires a stronger approach, both mental and physical. We have to start working the ball midfield and up. We need to start being more aggressive. I don’t want them holding onto their energy for the second half. They need to play the entire match. We need to play from the beginning to the end.”
The turnaround was, indeed, stark and it prompted So Pas High School Athletic Director Greg Luna to call out Zurita as a motivating factor for the five-game sweep.
“We are very fortunate to have the leadership of coach Zurita,” Luna said. “He has led the team once again to the CIF playoffs.”
Their final record was 5-2-1 and the sole occupant of second place in the Rio Hondo League standings.