When San Marino High School’s varsity girls’ soccer team began the 2018-19 season with a 9-0-1 mark, many felt the oncoming Rio Hondo League campaign would be a walkover for the traditionally solid Lady Titans.
Just six days after league play started, the same supporters merely felt sick.
Losses to Monrovia and Temple City and an uninspired draw at South Pasadena all of a sudden had the squad no longer concerned wit how far they would advance in the CIF playoffs, but rather if they would make them at all.
But San Marino has pulled off a turnaround of legendary proportions and at press time Wednesday, have a solid grasp on postseason action.
The Lady Titans face Monrovia on Thursday and depending on the outcome of the South Pasadena-temple City game, can finish anywhere from second to solo champions.
Head Coach Jaime Acuna provided the one word that led to the change of heart.
“Urgency,” said the mild-mannered coach, providing the slightest hint of sarcasm.
“We actually woke up and realized there was a good chance that we would not make the playoffs that sparked a little fuse in us that got it all going.”
Acuna credited seniors Amanda Grannis, Carly Hittner and Emily Boutin with leading the insurgency, but also mentioned sophomore Mackenzie Dawes as a source of light.
“Their leadership has really helped make the team aware that there is a lot to play for,” Acuna continued. “We were a little casual. We are a young team and they were able to bring the others along and say, ‘hey, this is not acceptable’”
It takes more than intention. Defense and goal-scoring are also necessary to get to the top of the table and the Lady Titans have found the back of the onion bag while denying opponents the opportunity.
Dawes scored first in last Thursday’s crucial 3-2 win over Temple City and this past Tuesday, tallied a magical goal with less than three minutes remaining at La Cañada to seal a 1-0 victory and put the Lady Titans in title contention.
Kenzie Tokuchi and Rachel Rudio potted the other two goals in the win over Temple City. Rudio’s score came with just five minutes remaining in regulation. And just like that, after an 0-2-1 start, four straight victories have San Marino knocking at the door.
Acuna claimed it is a true team effort.
“Wile I mention those girls, it is really everyone on the team,” Acuna said. “We have only lost two games and that speaks to our ability and talent. We don’t have one superstar that takes over a game. We do it collectively. They all need each other and they are all working together and when that happens, we are pretty darned good.”