Unfortunately for the Bakersfield Christian girls soccer team, it was its normally stellar defense that caved.
The Eagles allowed a season-high number of goals in losing the Central Section Division IV championship game, 5-1, to Strathmore on Friday night.
The top-seeded Spartans jumped out to a 3-0 halftime lead on a pair of goals by Taylor Alkire and then held off the defending D-IV champions during an extremely physical final 40 minutes to win their first section title since 2012.
Cailtin Albison, Samantha Oliveira, and Rosalinda Platas also scored goals for Strathmore, which extended its winning streak to 15 games.
"They're a great team, and it was going to take a lot for us to beat them," BCHS coach Derik Watson said. "We just didn't get some calls go our way and one they scored on in particular that we thought was a definite foul. ... Strathmore can play soccer, but they're also good physically and they took the upper hand that way. And they knew it. We weren't really prepared for that and it showed."
The Spartans (21-2-1) came into Friday night's game averaging 6.9 goals per game since their last loss.
The second-seeded Eagles (22-4) entered the game riding a 16-game winning streak of their own in which they had allowed just five combined goals. BCHS hadn't given up more than three goals in any game before Friday.
"I think we came out mentally ready, but when the game started it just wasn't there," BCHS senior Raegan Staib said. "I don't think we were fully clicked like we usually are."
Down 3-0, the Eagles looked like they might be able to climb back when Arianna Castillo scored off of a cross from Eszter Toth less than five minutes into the second half.
But eight minutes later, with the two teams playing 10-on-10 after they both had a player red-carded, Oliviera found the back of the net for the 38th time to extend the Spartans' advantage to 4-1.
Late in the game, BCHS' had a second player, Lexi Scanlon, sent off after she got into a tussle with Alkire in the Eagles box.
Platas hammered the ensuing penalty kick into the back of the net to put an exclamation point on the Spartans win.
"A soccer game is physical," Strathmore coach Hector Gonzalez said. "The young ladies, I told them, 'Try to do your best. Move the ball the around. The chances will come. We're going to score no matter what. Don't worry about the refs. Take care of the game in the field. If you score you don't have to worry about anybody else. And that's the way it is.'"
Last year BCHS defeated Strathmore 1-0 in the semifinals before going on to win the title.
Hannah Kind, who had 82 goals last year, played goalkeeper in the first half before giving way in the net to Shelby Munoz.
Kind was playing in just her fifth game since returning from torn ligament in her right ankle.
"I'm just so proud of my team for making it this far," Kind said. "They did an amazing job in league without me. I'm just blessed to be able to come back and to be able play in the playoffs. We played our hearts out tonight. You don't always get the result that you want."