STRATHMORE — Strathmore High’s girls’ soccer team’s historic season will continue, but just barely.
The top-seeded Lady Spartans advanced to the semifinal round of the CIF SoCal regionals on Tuesday — defeating eighth-seeded St. Genevieve from Panorama City 2-1 at Spartan Stadium, in one of the closest contests they’ve had in months.
The Lady Spartans became the first ever girls’ soccer team from the CIF Central Section to receive the No. 1 seed in the SoCal regional playoff bracket, and came out against St. Genevieve ready to prove that they were deserving of the top spot.
With the win, the Spartans will host Los Angeles CES, who’s coming off a 3-1 win over St. Anthony in their first round game.
The Lady Spartans will be playing for the chance to have their school host its first ever CIF Southern California regional finale at Spartan Stadium. That game would be Saturday if they advance.
Strathmore came onto the pitch and began the game fast, looking to score early by keeping constant pressure on St. Genevieve’s defense. The Lady Valiants’ goalie Sarah Cain was busy keeping her team in the game during the first 10 minutes.
After getting rebuffed in her earlier shots on goal, Strathmore’s top goal scorer, Samantha Oliveira, would not be denied by Cain again. Oliveira was able to beat St. Genevieve’s players on the back-line and bury the ball in the back of the net for the go-ahead-goal with 34:15 left to play in the first half.
Saint Genevieve answered by pushing the ball up towards Strathmore’s half of the pitch more, and was able to string together some better possession sequences as a team.
However, Strathmore’s Daisy Alvarez hit pay dirt and scored Strathmore’s second goal late in the first half, giving her team some much needed momentum as the Lady Spartans took a commanding 2-0 lead at the half.
The game opened up in the second half of play, taking on a completely different tone. Instead of being the team applying the pressure on their opponents, the Lady Spartans looked tired, fatigued and a step slower than the Lady Valiants.
St. Genevieve’s Evelyn Gomez kept probing and finally got her team on the board with a goal at 17:30 left in the game. The last 15 minutes were a tense struggle for the Lady Spartans as starters Taylor Alkire and Ally Holloway were forced to leave the game because of injuries sustained during the course of play.
Cramping had begun to affect several Lady Spartans, but St. Genevieve seemed to get their second wind — putting the pressure on Strathmore’s defense in a desperate attempt to score the equalizer.
Strathmore nearly gave it away in the final five minutes of the game, holding on for dear life.
Strathmore goalie Judith Uribe, who had a relatively quiet first half, played her heart out in the final minutes of the game — coming up with some huge saves in the stoppage time, to keep her team in the lead.
After the game, Strathmore Head Coach Hector Gonzalez said that hydration played a key factor in his team’s fatigue. “We had a lot of starters out because of injury or dehydration [in the second half],” Gonzalez said. “But that’s part of the game. It’s a little warmer outside, so we need to work on hydrating and getting everything better. In the game of soccer, that’s how it is sometimes.”
This far into the season, fatigue and nagging injuries play an important role for every team still in the playoffs. However, there is no doubt in Coach Gonazalez’s mind that by 4 p.m. Thursday, his team will be rested and ready to take the pitch once again. After all, this is the state playoffs.
Posted: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 6:00 am
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