First published in the Jan. 13 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
La Cañada High School’s varsity girls’ soccer team hosted South Pasadena and clashed in a competitive Rio Hondo League matchup that ended in a 1-1 tie last Friday.
South Pasadena defender Leah Pearson opened the scoring in the 32nd minute on a 6-yard floater past La Cañada goalie Montana La Barge. Tigers midfielder Sabrina Bluml earned the assist on a beautiful cross.
The Spartans were held in check for the entire match. It was only thanks to South Pasadena (1-3-2 overall record, 0-1-1 in league) defender Karouko Endo’s own-goal in the 73rd that saved La Cañada (5-1-2 overall, 0-0-1 in league) from opening league action with a loss.
“It comes with the pressure up top from our girls — that’s how you create an own goal,” LCHS head coach Kevin Neumeier said. “South Pas was under pressure and we forced them to get the turnover like that. I was proud of them for making that happen.”
The Spartans had their best offensive opportunity in the 51st on midfielder Shania Clorefine’s penalty shot, but Tigers goalie Amaris Franco deflected it.
It was a solid defensive game that saw limited opportunities by both teams as the ball remained in midfield for most of the match, except when La Cañada made a push to break the tie in the final minutes of regulation. Spartans fullbacks Samantha Neumeier (75th minute) and Atziri Fernandez (78th) took shots at the goal, but South Pasadena goalie Ava Hartstein blocked them.
Despite both teams’ limited attacking opportunities in the first half, the Tigers opened the second half strong and put pressure on La Cañada’s defense with four scoring attempts.
“It’s not what you want,” Kevin Neumeier said about the draw. “I give them their winter break off so that’s two and a half weeks of not even playing, not even being together, so it’s kind of what I expected against a tough opponent like South Pas.”
The Spartans are scheduled to resume league action at Temple City on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 3:30 p.m.