It all boiled down to a matchup between San Marino and La Cañada high schools to decide second place in Rio Hondo League girls’ soccer.
On the final day of the regular season, the Titans visited the Spartans needing a win or draw to finish as league runner-up. All host La Cañada needed to do was win to seal second.
La Cañada had a one-goal lead at the break before the floodgates opened for the Spartans in the second half, resulting in a 5-0 win over San Marino on Feb. 1.
“We didn’t have it today,” San Marino coach Jaime Acuna said. “It seemed like we were just a little off for whatever reason it is. Some days are like that.”
The win gave La Cañada (5-3 in league for 15 points) sole possession of second place in the final Rio Hondo League standings behind champion Monrovia. San Marino (4-3-1 in league for 13 points) finished in third. All three teams secure spots in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
The Spartans are ranked No. 10 in the CIF Southern Section Division IV polls, while the Titans are No. 3 in the Division V rankings.
“Honestly, we’re really looking to make a run,” Acuna said. “We’re excited by the opportunity to get to CIF. We’ll be ready.”
In the playoffs, La Cañada (12-5 overall) will go on the road to Riverside to play River Valley League champion Hillcrest in Division IV play.
San Marino, in Division V, will be making the trip to Palmdale to play Golden League runner-up Highland. Both first-round games took place Feb. 8.
“I’m really looking forward to being here with the team and moving forward with this because this is my first opportunity at a CIF,” Titan senior Sasha Redshaw said. “I think everyone’s spirits are just really high and enthusiastic about the coming future.”
In the league season finale, La Cañada got on top in the 17th minute with a goal by Charlotte Krinsky. It started with the Titans’ ill-fated decision to play a goal kick short and out wide that went awry. The ball never made it out of the San Marino defensive third before the visitors lost possession. The ball found the feet of Krinsky in the middle of the field near the top of the box, and she blasted a shot into the air that dipped under the crossbar to go up 1-0 on the only goal of the first 40 minutes.
La Cañada netted four more goals in the second half, which the Titans played without their co-captain Makayla Tokuchi, who took a knock being fouled hard from behind near the end of the opening half. Spartan Samantha Neumeier scored just five minutes into the second half off a free kick around 30 yards out in the center that she hit over the three-Titan wall and into the top of the net.
Soon after, San Marino moved players around to strengthen the Titan attack, including moving Redshaw up from the back, after which La Cañada scored three more. The first came from Samantha Hosford, who got the ball when a failed clearance attempt by the Titan back line went right to her and fired a shot that bounced in.
In the 75th minute, Spartan Mindy Martinez intercepted a clearance attempt from the San Marino defense before assisting Hailee Takao on a goal. Three minutes later, Neumeier got her second of the match when she picked up a loose ball and shot it in for the final goal of the contest.
“[La Cañada] was first to a lot of balls, they worked well in combination play,” Acuna said. “We didn’t do well transitioning back to defense.”
It was a far cry from the first matchup of the season, when San Marino was the host and beat La Cañada 5-0 back on Jan. 17.
“The first time we met them we weren’t totally ready to match their intensity and their level,” La Cañada coach Kevin Neumeier said. “Today we definitely came out there and, I feel like, dominated from the beginning to the end.”
Although it was not raining, the game was played on waterlogged, slick turf.
“I think a big factor was the advantage they had on their home field. It’s pretty slippery with the rain and just the way the concrete is kind of laid on this field,” Redshaw said. “I don’t think it was an excuse for us not to work together, but no one was really pressing as a unit. So, I think those were two big factors.”
TITANS SPLIT RESULTS
TO END REGULAR SEASON
San Marino (8-4-1 overall) were held scoreless for the second straight game in a 3-0 defeat to Mayfield 3-0 on Feb. 3 following the loss to La Cañada.
Ahead of their final league matchup against the Spartans, though, the Titans secured a 3-2 victory over Temple City on Jan. 30.
Madison No scored twice for San Marino, and Sofia Rodriguez had the other goal in the win that set up the second-place showdown with La Cañada.
First published in the Feb. 8 issue of the San Marino Tribune