Photos by Helena Fu
The varsity girls’ soccer team kicked off their season with a brilliant shutout 5-0 win against the Mark Keppel Aztecs at home on Tuesday, November 28. Returners and newcomers alike communicated and moved as one solid unit, allowing the Tiger offense to batter the Aztec defense and avenge the loss against Mark Keppel in 2016. This initial victory places the season record at 1-0, a good foot to start on for the long road to CIF berth ahead.
Everything clicked into place for the team in the first half of the match. Returning for her second year, head coach Victoria Lathrop introduced a brand-new formation that allowed the Tigers to completely outmaneuver the Aztecs for most of the game. It was clear that the South Pas squad was not simply a group of girls playing soccer, but rather a singular unwavering hive-mind determined to dominate.
Returning star-players allowed for an impassable South Pas barricade, rounded out by senior co-captain and defender Riley Segal and junior defenders Jade Myer, Emma Barrera, as well as co-captain Alyssa Bonk, supported by senior co-captain and goalie Sophie Reynolds shouting commands and warnings from the rear. South Pas’ midfield performed exceptionally, as senior Emily Dunn, junior Rainey Tilley, and sophomore Corey Segal zipped up and down the field thwarting any endeavors by Mark Keppel. Senior forward Isabel Bluml alongside junior forwards Jenna Noueihed and Uma Hornish showcased their immense technical skill, effortlessly framing and finishing goal shots. It was the team’s collective expertise that afforded them two goals early in the game, Bluml nabbing the first while Hornish snatching the second. Buoyed by such early success, Coach Lathrop subbed in other newcomers for the remainder of the half.
“We played very well as a team which has come from all our months of practice. I think it came down to our positivity– always giving positive constructive feedback,” Bluml said. “We just played so well together– we anticipated the other team’s next moves, so it was easy to communicate and be at the right places at the right time.”
The second half proceeded just as swimmingly as the former, as the starting formation again ravaged through any semblance of defense Mark Keppel had left. The ball remained exclusively in Aztec territory; both C. Segal and Tilley executed flawless shots that both powerfully struck the back of the Aztec net. The Tiger offense kept working at the goal– perhaps therein lies the only South Pas weakness during the match. Noueihed, Hornish, and senior forward Maya Martinez made multiple other attempts on goal but fumbled or mispredicted, resulting in multiple blocks and misses. Nevertheless, Bluml was able to close the match with a strong strike scoring the Tigers a final point.
“I don’t think I could have asked for a better start. They’ve been working a lot on combination plays, so it’s really important that that work translated well into games,” Coach Lathrop commented. “ Of course, we have room to grow. A big issue that we will continue to address from last year is finishing. It’s funny to say after beating a team 5-0, but that easily could have been doubled if we played better. It comes with building confidence, and by working preseason, we will be ready to roll when Rio Hondo League comes around.”
With this forward momentum, the Tigers hope to continue a winning streak as they face off the Duarte Falcons at an away game on Thursday, November 30.