STRATHMORE — The top-seeded Strathmore girls’ soccer team played their hearts out against Pasadena’s No. 2-seeded Maranatha High in the Division IV SoCal regional championship game this past weekend.
After two grueling halves of play on a hot spring afternoon at Spartan Stadium, it would be Maranatha that emerged as the 2015 CIF Division IV SoCal regional champions in a shocking 3-1 comeback win over Strathmore.
Both squads were evenly matched on the pitch, and played with similar styles. However, after trailing for most of the game, Maranatha ended up scoring all three of their goals in the final 15 minutes — shell shocking the Lady Spartans, who had played great defensively until Maranatha broke the game open.
Strathmore took a 1-0 lead about halfway through the first half after sophomores Ally Holloway and Taylor Alkire hooked up on a free kick. Holloway sent in a perfect pass to Alkire who kicked the ball into the goal to put the Lady Spartans on the board for the early lead.
The Minutemen began to apply more pressure after conceding the first goal — attacking Strathmore’s side of the pitch in the final 10 minutes of the opening half. Strathmore’s defense was able to prevent Maranatha from scoring the equalizer, thanks to some great moves from senior goalie Judith Uribe who came up with six saves in the first half.
Both teams created scoring opportunities in the second stanza, but were unable to capitalize in the early minutes. Top goal scorer in Tulare County Samantha Oliveira had several attempts on Maranatha’s goal, but the Minutemen defenders would close down on her quickly — giving her little time to get off a quality shot.
Neither team looked to be gaining any sort of advantage over the other, but the Lady Spartans were still ahead by 1-0 and knocking on history’s door.
In full desperation mode, Maranatha began to use their size advantage and up their physicality in the hopes of breaking through, and scoring the goal they needed to get back on equal footing with Strathmore.
Maranatha sophomore Kin Spencer, the Minutemen’s leading goal scorer, was able to do just that, scoring when Uribe was caught outside of Strathmore’s goal trying to make a save. The score knotted the game at 1-1.
With seven minutes left in the game, Maranatha co-captain Morgan Howe and teammate Ivahnna Espinoza scored back-to-back goals within two minutes of each other. Howe and Espinoza were able to get past Strathmore’s defenders for open shots on goal, putting the Minutemen ahead 3-1 with less that five minutes left to play.
After a tight 65 minutes of play, Maranatha refused to go away or to let fatigue get the better of them — going away with a hard fought victory and the CIF Division IV SoCal regional title.
For Uribe and the rest of her Strathmore teammates who have worked so hard all season to get to this point, the loss was understandably hard to swallow. But she was still confident that her team has a bright future.
“This year has honestly been the craziest,” Uribe said. “We pushed it this far, and I’m really proud of my girls. Even though we didn’t get it this time, I know they’ll be able to take it next year. It really helps that the whole community supports us.”
Strathmore Head Coach Hector Gonzalez knew that his team wanted to make history, and said that he couldn’t be prouder of the way they competed.
“Their character has been great for such a young team. They have done everything that we asked of them,” Gonzalez said after the game. “Now that they’ve had a taste of it, they will have the added motivation to come back next year and make another run at it.”
Gonzalez believes that scheduling games and tournaments against quality opponents during the nonleague portion of the season played a big role in his team’s success this year. “We’re the champions in the area for our Division. This year we played Division I and II schools in the preseason,” Gonzalez said. “So those teams are going to come back after us, because they know that we can play. You’re always looking to be the best team out there.” Gonzalez continued. “The motivation is for this team to become the best around again, and prove that this wasn’t a fluke. I’m hoping that we continue to grow.”
Strathmore ends the 2014-15 season with an overall record of 23-3-1.
Score By Halves
Maranatha 0 3 - 3
Strathmore 1 0 - 1
Goals: Strathmore - Taylor Alkire, Maranatha - Kin Spencer ; Morgan Howe ; Ivahnna Espinoza
Posted: Monday, March 16, 2015 6:00 am
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