The Flintridge Prep varsity girls’ soccer team did just about everything right against Polytechnic last Saturday. The Rebels fought for every loose ball and controlled the match, showing why their one of the best teams in the Prep League.
“They’re organized, they’re well coached, they play a good brand of soccer and are dangerous at all times,” said Panthers head coach Patrick Gray. “At a moment’s notice, they can attack.”
The Panthers showed they, too, are capable of attacking quickly, taking advantage of two counter attacks to defeat the Rebels, 2-0, in a league match at Babcock Field.
The big win places Poly (12-3-3 overall record, 3-1 in league) in position to recapture the league crown.
“I think the key was for us to contain them a little bit, or try to contain them,” Gray said. “And then we took advantage of a couple of quick counters. A quick throw-in over here ended up in the goal, and the same with a quick [loose ball] win in the midfield. That was the difference for us.”
Flintridge Prep (14-3-3 overall, 3-1-1 in league) marched down the field often but struggled to get past a well-positioned Poly defense.
The Panthers’ patience paid off in the 36th minute on a quick throw-in deep in Prep’s side of the field. Cayla McFarlane raced for the ball on the right side of the box and flicked it past Prep goalkeeper Lindsay Uteda. With defenders closing in on the ball near the line, Sophie Schleifer punched the ball into the back of the net to put Poly on the board.
Flintridge Prep came out determined in the second half and mustered a scoring opportunity in the second minute. Helen Schaefer laced a perfect ball to Julia Gonzalez. Just as the Prep forward was readying her shot, Poly goalkeeper Isabel Ball pounced on the ball and made a stellar save.
“The thing she has always down so well is she comes out of goal so fast and furious with no fear,” Ball said. “I think what we saw today was culmination of that. It was a good day for her.”
An intrepid Ball denied the Rebels on three breakaways and recorded 10 saves.
“It’s always been my mentality,” Ball said of her fearlessness coming out of the box. “I’m just ready for whatever comes. I’ve got a great defense backing me up. They’re supporting me, and I’m supporting them. I think the combination we got there, even though we have a young team, is very good when we buckle down and focus.”
Poly’s opportunistic offense didn’t let Ball’s effort go to waste as it extended its lead over the visitors with a quick play in the 58th minute. Catalina Alonso won a ball in the midfield, dribbled past a defender and passed the ball into open space toward goal. Maggie Jameson won the race and poked the ball past Uteda and into the back of the net.
“Everybody was fighting for the ball,” Ball said. “We just kept fighting, no matter what the situation was. No matter what was going on, we kept pushing through. We finished our chances, and sometimes that’s how the game goes.”
The Panthers will be idle until Jan. 26.
Flintridge Prep will look to bounce back at home against Lynwood Firebaugh this Friday, Jan. 20, at 3:30 p.m.