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Flintridge Prep girls' soccer turns things around against Westridge

The Flintridge Prep girls' soccer team reversed its fortunes in a short time span in its Prep League match Monday against Westridge.

Despite controlling the game and dictating play throughout the first 40 minutes, the Rebels couldn't score and trailed at the half by one goal against the Tigers.

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In the second half, Flintridge Prep was able to turn things around in short order. The Rebels tallied two goals in the span of just over a minute and added an insurance goal later in the half to pull out a 3-1 home victory.

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The quick strikes were facilitated by the strong play up front from sophomore midfielder Mona Cesario, who ended with two goals and an assist.

The win keeps Flintridge Prep (10-1-5, 5-0 in league) in a tie for first place in league. The Rebels are tied for the top spot with Pasadena Poly (14-2-2, 5-0), which is ranked No. 7 in CIF Southern Section Division II. The teams will battle for league supremacy when they meet Friday at Flintridge Prep.

Pasadena Poly is the three-time defending league champion and Flintridge Prep hasn't captured a title since the 2011-12 season.

"People asked If I wanted a scouting report on Pasadena Poly and I said no," said Flintridge Prep Coach Esteban Chavez, whose team, despite having just one loss, is unranked in the Division III poll. "They asked me if I want to know about how the team is doing and I told them no.

"We just wanted to concentrate on Westridge because we knew it could be a tough game for us. If we both come into Friday both 5-0, great. But we didn't want to look too far ahead."

The Rebels will play a nonleague contest against host Village Christian on Wednesday before facing Pasadena Poly.

Flintridge Prep created offensive pressure early in the first half and its defense proved up to the task, not allowing the Tigers (5-8, 2-4) a shot in the first 17 minutes.

It was on only their second scoring chance that the Tigers tallied the game's first score in the 26th minute to take a 1-0 lead. The Rebels tried to clear the ball back to goalkeeper Lindsay Uteda, but it was flicked past her by a Westridge player. As the ball was headed to the goal, a Flintridge Prep player tried to kick it aside, but ended up directing it into the goal.

"When we got behind, our coach just told us to keep calm and not to panic," Cesario said. "We just knew we had to stay composed and hopefully we would be able to come back. We just wanted to focus on getting that first goal and we wanted to go on from there."

Down, 1-0, going into the second half, Chavez switched some things around on offense. Because the Rebels were bunching up through the middle in the first half, he split his forwards wide to create more space and hopefully some scoring opportunities.

The switch paid off fairly quickly, as Cesario assisted on a goal by sophomore Julia Gonzalez six minutes into the half to draw the Rebels even at 1.

In the 47th minute, Cesario tallied her first goal off an assist from Gonzalez to give Flintridge Prep a 2-1 lead.

"I don't think we were playing bad at all when we went down 1-0," Chavez said. "We were creating a lot of opportunities and scoring hasn't been a problem for us this season. I just knew that with us being down, if we could control our emotions, we would be fine.

"I just wanted them to be patient and just play the way they were playing and the goals would come."

Cesario added a second goal in the 67th minute off an assist from junior Alexis Gordon.

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Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com

Twitter: @jefftsports

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