Before the season began in early December, the La Cañada High and Flintridge Prep girls' soccer teams had common goals of challenging for their respective league championships and possibly making a long run in the postseason.
It certainly helped that the Spartans and Rebels could turn to experienced players to assist in the process and meet the objectives for their respective budding teams. In the process, the trio also caught the attention of opposing coaches throughout their divisions.
La Cañada's Megan Decker and Olivia Leyva and Chelsea Johnson of Flintridge Prep picked up All-CIF Southern Section accolades after the CIF Office unveiled the first teams for seven divisions Monday.
Decker and Leyva were instrumental in helping lead the Spartans to an appearance in the Division V championship game after La Cañada won the Rio Hondo League title. Johnson earned Division III recognition following the Rebels taking second in the Prep League and reaching the second round of the playoffs.
Decker, a junior forward/defender, often displayed her versatility on both sides of the field for the Spartans (22-1-1, 9-0-1 in league). She finished with 16 goals and 16 assists for 48 points and scored some clutch goals for the Spartans in their historic season that culminated with them advancing to a championship match for the first time in program history. She was also named the league's player of the year.
"Megan was one of our key players on offense and she was very smart and something special," La Cañada Coach Louie Bilowitz said. "When she dribbled the ball, you could see her passion, enjoyment and happiness for the game.
"That's something that's very rare to see."
Leyva, a senior, was one of several steady pillars on defense for a La Cañada squad that yielded just 11 goals all season.
Leyva finished with four goals and a pair of assists for 10 points.
"She's without a doubt one of the best athletes I've ever coached," Bilowitz said. "She was a force back there on defense and backed up the other players nicely.
"We are able to stay in games because we don't give up a lot of goals. She's a big reason for that."
Johnson, a senior fullback, aided the Rebels defensively. With Johnson paving the way, the Rebels finished 13-5-5 and 7-1-2 in league under Coach Esteban Chavez.
In addition to being named the league's defensive player of the year, Johnson also proved she could help lead the Rebels' offensive attack. Johnson registered 10 goals and 10 assists for 30 points.
"She knows how to lead and she's well rounded," Chavez said. "She led our team in goals, assists and points and did a great job on defense.
"She's just a strong player and we are going to miss her a lot next year."