Photos by Helena Fu
With a magnificent 4-0 shutout victory over the Los Amigos Lobos at an away match on Tuesday, February 27, the girls’ varsity soccer team has secured a chance at the CIF Southern Section Division V title. This matchup served as the ultimate showcase of the talent and skill that exists on the roster, as they shattered any previous goal-finishing troubles they may have faced in the past. A 20-3-2 record precedes the Tigers– certainly a strong way to enter the CIF finals.
With every round of CIF, the Tigers eclipse any expectations levied upon them; while their 3-0 win over Maranatha was easily labeled as their best work, the Tigers’ marvelous play against an even more formidable opponent surpasses the former win on all aspects.
The angels in the box have remained the only unwavering constant in the Tigers’ immaculate season– senior and junior goalkeepers co-captain Sophie Reynolds and Noemi Howland foiled all Lobo shots with ease. The Tiger backline functioned as a slingshot throughout the game, quickly collecting and ricocheting long balls to a competent frontline. To name a standout defender would require naming all– each defender acted as a vital individual cog in a greater machine. Meanwhile, a tireless midfield consisting of senior, junior, and sophomore Emily Dunn, Rainey Tilley, and Corey Segal amazed per usual, the trio constantly thwarting Los Amigos endeavors. Junior forward Uma Hornish led the attacking charge with her trademark elegance and cool.
Not unlike last Friday’s game, South Pas needed a grace period to attain their anticipated prowess. Admittedly, in the first ten minutes, play was precarious for the Tigers as the Lobos appeared to be dominating the field. Moreover, South Pas forwards kept getting caught in offsides traps, turning opportunities on goal into free kicks for Los Amigos.
Naturally, the Tigers adjusted. Operating in the aforementioned slingshot mechanism, junior defender and co-captain Alyssa Bonk reversed a Lobo play and sent flying a beautiful long ball. Tilley then helped it past Lobo defenders with a gentle touch, giving Hornish a perfect scoring window. Her finish was the culmination of Hornish excellence, as she dribbled the ball all the way up to the keeper, juked her out, and slid in a saucy flick-of-the-foot goal. Putting up that first point held the Tigers out until halftime; any early doubts in South Pas were extinguished as the orange and black layed out supremacy on the field.
When the second half rolled around, South Pas eager to prove themselves even further. The trend of Tiger ball authority continued with the welcome addition of the most exquisite goals one could imagine. The second goal bloomed out of a deflection from the far right corner of Los Amigos terrain. Dunn found herself situated in a somewhat awkward position, 30 yards out from the box. Despite this, Dunn unleashed the most gorgeous first-touch punt seen in South Pas’ season, which arched perfectly into the net.
Tigers proceeded to assault the Lobo box, resulting in the type of backline tangle that arises from a panicked defense. Dunn swooped in again, crossing a ball out of a flurry of feet and bodies towards the always-available Tilley. Executing her third header-goal in three consecutive games, Tilley knocked the ball cleanly beyond the Los Amigos’ keeper’s outstretched hands.
In a true measure of character ten minutes out from the close, Reynolds sustained a nasty ball-to-face injury while valiantly defending her box. This is the fundamental ex-factor behind this particular team; regardless of their untouchable lead above the Lobos, the Tigers still played with complete heart and soul.
Hornish only emphasized this characteristic with the fourth and final goal of the match. Taking an assist from senior forward Isabella Gonzalez, Hornish made a last-ditch cross that absolutely annihilated all Los Amigos’ hopes of comeback.
“I’m feeling absolutely amazing. It started with a strong defense and great communication, and we pushed up from there. I’m so excited that, with the skills we know we have, we were finally able to show off what we can do,” Hornish remarked. “Although it’s been a long season, I don’t think we’re getting tired at all. Every win makes us more energized for the next, proving we are ‘that good.’ And now, we have made it to finals, which is above and beyond anything we could’ve hoped for.”
“I believe this was one of our best games all year. These are all catchphrases I’ve used before, but never have I seen such a true team effort, true communication, and a true desire, will, and want to win. Per usual, our goalkeepers and backline were stellar while the midfield really locked them down. Uma, Rainey, and Emily came through with amazing goals that I am absolutely ecstatic for,” head-coach Victoria Lathrop commented. “I am especially proud because postseason is hard. Everyone’s legs are tired, everyone has been playing since November, essentially– to get a 4-0 win in a semi-final match is almost unheard of. Now, the mindset is ‘we’ve worked so hard to get here, let’s just finish it.’ For me, this has been a team that I would call ‘the best team you’ve never heard of.’ For so long as a program, we haven’t been in league or post-season runnings, so this our chance to establish a legacy.”
The pinnacle of the soccer season approaches South Pas as they are thrusted into CIF finals. The Tigers will be facing off the Westminster Lions in this final matchup, a rather fitting opponent to decide which clan of cats will be crowned rulers of the wild frontier that is CIF. Westminster succeeded in their semi-final match with a 4-0 win as well, making them threatening challengers for the throne. This showdown will most likely occur this Saturday, March 3 in a neutral location that is yet to be announced.