Spartans dispatch of No. 4 seed
STRATHMORE — The top-seeded Strathmore girls’ soccer team ensured that the Division IV SoCal Regional Championship will be won at Spartan Stadium.
The Lady Spartans defeated No. 4-seeded Los Angeles CES 4-1 on Thursday, and will host No. 2 Maranatha in the regional finals at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Strathmore may have had a hard time pushing past eighth-seeded St. Genevieve High in their first-round game earlier in the week, but they showed their resilience against the Lady Unicorns in the semifinals.
What Strathmore Head Coach Hector Gonzalez and his young team have been able to accomplish this year is truly remarkable, and the Lady Spartans have deservedly become the talk of the town.
“I’ve been living in Strathmore for 13 years,” Gonzalez said. “Our community just pours out and supports every sport [here at the high school]. It’s amazing.”
If the coaches and players from Los Angeles CES didn’t know where Strathmore was before their semifinal game against the Lady Spartans, they certainly do now.
Dehydration was not a factor this time around, and Strathmore came out in top form. The Lady Spartans forced two corner kicks right off the bat, and scoring machine Sam Oliveira came out firing — nearly scoring the game’s first goal within the first two minutes.
Los Angeles CES came into the game with an overall record of 14-4-4, and their junior goal keeper Jamie Kolbrenner had 56 recorded saves on the season. The Lady Unicorns seemed content to sit back in their defensive formation in the hopes of catching Strathmore off guard and launching a counter attack. However, Strathmore’s sophomore defender Ally Holloway wasn’t letting anything get past her, and led the rest of her teammates on the back-line in what was a great defensive effort.
Known for her powerful kicks, Holloway provided a highlight reel goal about a quarter of the way into the first half. On a free kick, with the ball placed approximately 12-yards in front of the Lady Unicorns 18-yard box — Holloway kicked an absolute beauty from nearly 30-yards away. It looked like a heat seeking missile as the ball hit the lower left corner of the goal.
“[The ball] went exactly where I wanted it to go,” Holloway said after the game. “I tried to keep it low and away from their defenders, and it worked out.”
But LA CES wasn’t going out that easy. Late in the first half, the Lady Unicorns began to rally and started pushing the ball up into Strathmore’s half of the pitch. They were able to get the equalizer they needed on a corner kick that rebounded into Strathmore’s goal. The game was tied 1-1 at the half, even though the Lady Spartans had dominated nearly every facet of the game.
The pace of the game slowed down in the opening minutes of the second half, as both teams fought for possession.
More than halfway through, the Lady Spartans’ junior forward Kristen Gomez broke up the stalemate — sprinting down the right side of the pitch to provide the perfect cross to senior Viktoria Jasengnou who tapped in the goal.
Strathmore’s offensive “juggernauts” Taylor Alkire and Oliveira provided two more insurance goals late in the game to give the Lady Spartans the commanding win.
The win was a total team effort. Junior Rosalinda Platas did a great job of holding possession for Strathmore, and the Lady Spartans’ offensive attack was back in action. Also, Strathmore dug in on the defensive end to prevent their opponents from getting on the scoreboard in the second half.
“We have young back-line, and there’s only three of us back there, so sometimes we have to cover a lot of ground,” Holloway said. “After Tuesday’s, game we came out wanting to do better, and to play as good as we know we can.” When thinking about the fact that she would be a player on the first team to host a regional final at Strathmore High, Holloway was excited and grateful for the support from the community.
“It’s been an awesome ride, and the community has been really great in coming out and supporting us. People will ask about how we’re doing, it’s just pretty cool,” Holloway said.
Strathmore advances their overall record to 23-2-1 with the win, but one last hurdle remains for coach Gonzalez and his team, before they can put the final touches on an historic season.
“I’ve never been involved in anything quite like this,” Gonzalez said. “Our (Athletic Director) is making sure that our field is in great condition, and the compliments that we’re getting from people from down south have been good to hear. I know [the field] is going to be looking good (tomorrow) and I can’t wait.”
Admission for tomorrow’s SoCal Regional Championship game at Spartan Stadium in Strathmore will cost $8 for students and $12 for adults.
Score By Halves
LACES 1 0 - 1
SHS 1 3 – 4
Goals: Strathmore – Ally Holloway; Viktoria Jasengnou; Samantha Oliveira; Taylor Alkire