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Top 10 Glendale News-Press Girls' Athletes of the Year: Gonzalez scores historic season

Top 10 Glendale News-Press Girls' Athletes of the Year: Gonzalez scores historic season
Flintridge Prep senior soccer player Julia Gonzalez is the 2017-18 Glendale News-Press Girls' Athlete of the Year. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

Chosen by the Glendale News-Press sports staff, here are the top 10 girls’ athletes of 2017-18.

1 Julia Gonzalez, Flintridge Prep soccer — Jaw-dropping statistics that will not soon be forgotten and unprecedented team success equated to one of the greatest seasons in area lore — no matter the sport, no matter the gender.

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That was the season Flintridge Prep senior soccer player Julia Gonzalez put forth.

Statistically, no area soccer player has put up the numbers she did, as she tallied an astronomical 50 goals and her 16 assists weren’t all that bad, either.

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As for team success, Flintridge Prep’s girls’ soccer team won the program’s first Southern Section title, as the Rebels followed a dominant run to a Prep League crown with a CIF Southern Section Division III championship.

As for the accolades, she was voted the Prep League Offensive Player of the Year, the All-CIF Southern Section Division III Player of the Year and, for a second time in three years, the All-Area Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year.

And now there’s one more, as she has been tabbed the 2017-18 La Cañada Valley Sun Girls’ Athlete of the Year.

"She had an amazing season and an amazing high school career," Rebels goalie Lindsey Uteda said of Gonzalez following the season. "She's just a very talented player; she's poised, she works hard. She's really just an amazing player."

Flintridge Prep roared to a 26-5-2 campaign that included a 10-0 run of dominance in the Prep League in which it pummeled opponents by a combined 74-6 tally. Keystones of that success were scoring 164 goals on the season, the fourth-best mark in Southern Section history, and producing a 22-match winning streak, which tied for the sixth-longest in Southern Section history.

The pinnacle achievement came when the Rebels defeated Garden Grove Pacifica, 3-1, for the Southern Section Division III plaque on March 3.

"I'm just so proud of what we've accomplished," Gonzalez said that day. "This is what we've worked so hard for."

The Rebels’ season extended into the Southern California Regional Division III championship, where a storybook season came up short of the SoCal triumph when they lost, 3-2, in overtime to San Diego Academy of Our Lady of Peace in a thriller marred by a relentless downpour that slowed Prep’s high-octane game.

For as stellar as the Rebels season was, it’s impossible to know how well it would have gone had it not been for Gonzalez in the early going. With multiple starters missing with injuries, Gonzalez was the constant.

The Division III Rebels faced 11 upper-division teams and emerged with a 5-4-2 record despite the competition and the absences. Gonzalez tallied 13 goals and three assists in that stretch, scoring more than half of her team’s goals.

"What will always stand out to me is what Julia did at the beginning of the year," Flintridge Prep coach Esteban Chavez said. "With that schedule, we could have gone winless. She set the tone for what type of season we were going to have."

Gonzalez’ season for the ages saw her finish with an area-record 50 goals and 116 points, the latter tying her for fifth in the nation, according to Maxpreps.com, and tops in California, while her 50 goals were tied for fifth in the country and tied for the top spot in the state with Truckee's Ava Seelenfreund.

She amazingly scored in 27 of 32 games she played.

"She was just so consistent in the beginning that it kept us afloat," Chavez said. "And, obviously, 50 goals. And it wasn't 50 goals against just bad teams. She scored against everybody."

For four seasons at Flintridge Prep, Gonzalez flourished. Her amazing career saw her impressive numbers and the team’s subsequent success improve season after season before concluding with 2017-18’s season of seasons.

"I am really thankful that I was able to finish that way," Gonzalez said. "I was just proud of myself that I was able to work hard all four years."

2 Helen Schaeffer, Flintridge Prep soccer — Each and every season for Helen Schaeffer at Flintridge Prep has been one of amazing statistical splendor and her junior season was no different.

However, as phenomenal as it was, it’s all the more impressive considering she missed the first 12 games of the season.

Still, Schaeffer was a focal point in leading Flintridge Prep to the program’s first CIF Southern Section Division III championship as it defeated Garden Grove Pacifica, 3-1.

Schaeffer scored 35 goals and 28 assists, which equated to a simply staggering 4.7 points per game and 98 for the season, which was the third-best in the state, according to Maxpreps.com.

"She was so consistent with goals and assists and the plays she made," Rebels coach Esteban Chavez said. "She's just outstanding."

Flintridge Prep finished its season, which also included a Prep League title, 26-5-2.

Perhaps the most amazing stat of all for Schaeffer was that the Rebels were 20-1 with the forward on the field. The only defeat suffered with Schaeffer in the lineup came in a 3-2 overtime defeat to Academy of Our Lady of Peach in the CIF Southern California Division III Regional championship.

Consequently, Schaeffer scored in 20 of the 21 games she played , with the only time she was shut down coming in the loss.

Not surprisingly, she was an All-Prep League, All-CIF and All-Area selection at season’s end.

3 Dee Dee Hernandez, Crescenta Valley softball — The freshman pitcher embraced life in the circle and helped the Falcons enjoy a season that saw them win a second straight Pacific League championship and reach the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division III postseason.

Hernandez, a left-hander, showed why she’s an integral part of the program — now and in the future.

Hernandez was named the All-Area Softball Player of the Year and was selected as the league’s pitcher of the year. She finished 21-2 with a sparkling 0.42 earned-run average. In 131 1/3 innings, Hernandez recorded 162 strikeouts and walked just four.

At the plate, Hernandez hit a robust .556 (50 for 90) and drove in 45 runs. She contributed 19 doubles, three home runs and scored 10 runs.

Crescenta Valley went 25-3, 13-1 in league.

“She was consistent on both sides,” Crescenta Valley coach Amanda Peek said. “She’s just a mentally tough girl. She’s always ready.”

4 Kaitlyn Chen, Flintridge Prep basketball — With a relatively young team, Chen took on the role of providing leadership and experience as a sophomore forward. Chen helped Flintridge Prep get plenty accomplished. The Rebels won the Prep League championship for the fifth straight season and advanced to the championship contest of the CIF Southern Section Division III-A playoffs. It paved the way for Chen to be named the All-Area Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year.

Chen and the Rebels bucked the odds throughout most of the season, which concluded with them qualifying for the state tournament. Having seen several key starters graduate, Chen took charge on the court.

Chen averaged an area-best 21.2 points per game and contributed 8.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.8 steals . Chen, who was named the league's most valuable player, collected 24 points, eight rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game in the playoffs and helped Flintridge Prep (24-8, 12-0 in league) advance to the championship game for the second time in three seasons. Chen received All-CIF Southern Section first-team recognition.

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In Chen's two seasons at Flintridge Prep, the Rebels are 48-11, 24-0 in league.

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"Kaitlyn learned how to be a leader and get her teammates involved at practice and games,” Flintridge Prep co-coach Kevin Kiyomura said. “This year was clearly her turn and she more than exceeded our expectations. We saw that in the regular season and throughout the playoffs."

5 Katelynn Shaheen, Crescenta Valley diving — Needing a dive to qualify to the CIF Southern Section Division II prelims, the Falcons junior took the unusual step to compete outside her league at the Mission League finals at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center in Pasadena on April 24.

The effort was not a waste as Shaheen posted a score of 524.30 points, which would have won the Mission League title had she been a member of the league. Since she wasn’t, however, she settled for qualifying to the Division II championships.

At the Division II finals at Riverside City College on May 7, Shaheen was unable to defend her Division II crown by finishing second to Long Beach Millikan’s Jenna Sonnenberg, 514.30 to 490.90.

Shaheen’s final score of 490.90 ended up being the eighth-best across four Southern Section divisions.

6 Alyssa Hernandez, Crescenta Valley softball — Hernandez enjoyed another monster season on the diamond for the Falcons. Hernandez helped the Falcons win their second straight Pacific League championship and advance to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.

The senior proved to be an elite lead-off hitter. A slick-fielding shortstop, Hernandez batted .548 (57 for 104) with 46 runs and 37 runs batted in. She collected an outstanding 26 extra-base hits (15 doubles, eight triples and three homers). The Falcons finished 25-3, 13-1 in league.

Hernandez received All-Pacific League and All-Area first-team accolades.

“Alyssa was a leader,” Crescenta Valley coach Amanda Peek said. “She started the games off with some big hits and she didn’t wane.

“She was a core player on this team and she was the leader of the infield.”

7 Amanda Petersen, Crescenta Valley swimming — Winning an 11th consecutive Pacific League crown was impressive, but still expected for the Falcons’ girls’ team. However, a fifth-place finish at the CIF Southern Section Division II championships in Riverside was a pleasant surprise and there was likely nobody more accountable than Petersen, as the freshman’s energy was infectious. She complemented an already talented core of Kimmy Park and Gabi Icheva and her impact in the pool was phenomenal.

An All-Area swimmer in the 100-yard breaststroke, Petersen won the 200 individual medley Pacific League title and also claimed victory in the 100 breaststroke with a league record time of 1:05.16. She was also part of the league champion 400 freestyle relay team.

At the Division II finals, Petersen left her mark once more as she took third in the breaststroke in 1:04.63. She was also a part of two top-five relay finishes in the finals and took 12th in the 200IM.

8 Paige Singleton, Glendale Adventist Academy volleyball — She was the Cougars’ most well-rounded player and helped Glendale Adventist to the greatest sports season in school history.

The Cougars finished 24-6 to win a CIF Southern Section Division IX championship — the first CIF title in school history — while the squad finished 7-1 in the postseason and finished runner-up in the CIF State Division V Regional Finals.

Singleton tallied 15 kills in the Cougars’ 3-2 win over Faith Baptist in the Division IX semifinals, totaled 18 kills and 19 digs in a Division IX championship victory over Santa Clarita Christian and finished with 13 kills, 21 digs and two aces against Maranatha Christian in the regional final.

For the season, Singleton posted 212 kills, 209 digs, 55 aces and 11 blocks in earning All-Area and All-CIF Division IX first-team honors.

9 Lauren Bolte, Flintridge Sacred Heart soccer and track and field — The two-sport star shined in both her pursuits, beginning in the winter.

On the Tologs soccer team, the striker was instrumental in leading her squad to its first Mission League title since 2011. For her efforts, Bolte was named the Mission League Most Valuable Offensive Player after finishing with eight goals and eight assists.

She was also an All-Area first-team selection.

During the track season, Bolte finished third in the 400-meters with a personal-best time of 59.16 seconds, while she was fourth in the 200 in another personal-record mark of 26.27 at the Mission League finals at Occidental College on May 3.

Bolte advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division IV championships at El Camino College in Torrance on May 19 and placed ninth in the 400 in 1:00.19.

10 Elis Alaan, Glendale golf — Alaan turned in a marvelous season for the Nitros, culminating in her being named the All-Area Girls’ Golfer of the Year for the first time.

As the lone golfer for Glendale, Alaan, a senior, proved she could hold her own against top talent from the area and region. She finished sixth in the Pacific League and appeared in the CIF postseason for the first time. Alaan posted a 41.6 average in league and 40 overall en route to advancing to the CIF Southern Section Individual Final.

Alaan had an impressive campaign which included a first-place performance in a league match. Alaan became the first Glendale girls' golfer to advance to the second stage of CIF competition since Tammy Panich accomplished the feat in 2008.

At the CIF Soutern Section Northern Individual Tournament at Soule Park Golf Course in Ojai, Alaan converted on a 20-foot shot for birdie on the par-four 12th to shoot a four-over-par 76. Alaan tied for 27th to move on to the CIF Individual Finals at River Ridge Golf Course in Oxnard.

Ar River Ridge, Alaan had a 17-over-par 89 to tie for 58th.

Honorable Mention: Mika Celeste, Flintridge Prep soccer; Elyse Knipschild, Glendale Adventist Academy volleyball; Jillian Yanai, Glendale basketball.

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