Photos by Helena Fu
The girls’ varsity soccer preseason came to an impressive close as the Tigers defeated the Sierra Vista Dons 3-0 at a away game on Thursday, December 21. Determined to finish out the season strong, the Tigers’ sheer will overpowered all the Dons’ defenses. This ninth preseason match commemorates the girls’ breakout preseason– a total of 50 goals captured, 0 goals conceded, and no losses with a season record at 9-0-1– a feat unparalleled by any other school in the Rio Hondo league this year.
Although confident in their abilities, the Tigers began a little unsure of the match to come, especially due to key junior defender Emma (Booch) Barrera’s absence from her concussion resulting from last Saturday’s tournament play. This apprehension certainly showed– strong shots on goal were unable to be completed, and an ardent Sierra Vista offense penetrated a weakened South Pasadena defense.
However, the Tigers soon after fell into their rhythm, parading their authority over the Dons. The Tiger frontline and midfield glimmered under the huge overhead field lights amidst the five o’clock darkness– senior, junior, and sophomore midfielders Emily Dunn, Rainey Tilley, and Corey Segal calibrated beautiful striking opportunities for junior forwards Uma Hornish and Jenna Noueihed to fire a steady succession of balls to goal. While the Tigers certainly were not playing all too efficiently (many shots on goal were missed and the Sierra Vista offense drove deep into Tiger territory), their sheer expertise won out each individual player matchup. Midway through the half, Hornish sent forth a cross deep into the Don box, which C. Segal was able to step and finish, clinching the Tigers’ first goal.
The half ended with strong performances by senior defender Celeste Amaya and sophomore forward Jessica Lat, Amaya plugging the void left by an injured Barrera as Lat launched multiple spirited attempts on goal.
“We had a great job playing balls over their backline and splitting them, and we were able to break down their defense which was really good,” Hornish said. “The other team was pretty tired we knew they had played a lot of games recently– it was great that we were able to use that to our advantage.”
South Pas possession continued throughout the second half, the midfield again meeting the ball in every which way it bounced. It was a cross again– this time from senior forward Harper Fox– that afforded South Pas its second goal; Noueihed sent an initial endeavor, getting deflected by the goalie, then striving again and earning the satisfying second-attempt point.
Later in the half, the Tigers were presented with a free kick from the 20 yard line in Don territory. All eyes immediately fixed on senior defender and co-captain Riley Segal, the resident premier of accurate and forceful punts. She let loose a high and fly ball, bouncing off the goal crossbar. Hornish, situated in a precise position, followed up and finished scoring the third and final goal.
“It feels pretty amazing to end preseason so strong, it’s never happened like this before especially for this team in a long time, so I hope that it can carry into future games and CIF,” Hornish said.
“To come in ready for Rio Hondo undefeated with no goals conceded– that’s huge. I’m beyond excited for what’s to come for the girls,” head coach Victoria Lathrop remarked. “To go back to the very beginning of preseason, they set their own goals– one of them was allowing less goals than last year. Last year they allowed 13 goals; the fact they haven’t allowed any goes to show how they are accomplishing when they set out to do. It’s been amazing how they have been able to keep up their communication and composure throughout all these matches.”
This record preseason will technically come to a close this Saturday, December 23 as the Tigers finish out the Claremont Holiday Classic Tournament from the week before. Although having an impeccable past month of matches, the Tigers must continue to focus on finishing opportunities– countless shots on goal have been squandered by small mistakes and lack of speed, which could come to haunt them in competitive league play. Regardless, the Tigers will be sure to recover and celebrate over the winter break as they prepare to face the rival San Marino Titans on Wednesday, January 10 at home in their first Rio Hondo league game.
Head coach Lathrop left Tiger Newspaper with an important message before their oncoming league play.
“Everyone must come to this San Marino game, we want as many Tigers as we can get to support these awesome girls. Show up!” said Lathrop.