Caroline Gordon wasn't getting her hopes up about being named the Prep League's Most Valuable Player.
The La Cañada High goalkeeper was aware such accolades are usually reserved for standout offensive players.
"It's really hard to get MVP awards as a goalie," said Gordon, who recorded 129 saves on 290 shots on goal this year for a 45% save percentage. "It's not the most glorious position. They usually give it to offensive players."
Gordon's chances took a bigger hit when one considered the Spartans finished fourth out of five teams in league with a 3-13, 2-6 in league record. Still, there was no denying the keeper made an impact on a young La Cañada squad that had graduated eight seniors.
Thus, Gordon received the co-MVP honor along with Chadwick's Molly Mahony.
"She put in a ton of work, was the first one there and last one to leave — typical of an amazing player," said first-year La Cañada Coach Kyle Smith of Gordon, who's headed to Gettysburg College, an NCAA Division III school.
Glendale High Coach Joe Campbell can attest to Gordon's greatness.
"I like her, but I don't really hate to see her leave," Campbell laughed. "Caroline was really the lone starter left on the [Spartans] and she held them together the whole season and made some unbelievable plays. You could outplay that team and lose because she's there. She just always seemed to hold them in the game."
Gordon was one of 11 area players to garner all-league recognition with La Cañada's Natalie Wilson picking up first-team honors along with Glendale High's Jenna Nance and Elena Pierce and Westridge's Eda Ried.
La Cañada's Christine Noh and Paige Milne were named to the second team along with the Nitros' Gladiola Pelayo-Brambila and Kimberly Arroyo and Westridge's Tatum Mannion and Lili Lim.
Wilson, a senior, was another key part to La Cañada's defense. The senior recorded 14 ground balls, which was the second most on the team, for the Spartans.
"She was pretty much our only experienced defensive player all season," Smith said of Wilson. "She led our defense all season with Caroline, helped the younger girls get up to speed and picked up a lot of ground balls for us."
Glendale's offense ran through seniors Nance and Pierce, who Campbell says combined to score about 120 goals, with about 20 more coming from Pelayo-Brambila and Arroyo.
"They had the ability to score," said Campbell of Nance, a center who took most draws, and Pierce, a defensive wing. "Jenna was an attacker and … Elena was our best transition player. She took the ball from one end of the field to another, many of her goals were coast to coast."
Noh and Milne, a junior attacker, were La Cañada's two primary scorers, as they led the team with 19 and 14 goals, respectively. Noh played midfield and attacker this year as a freshman and figures to make a big impact in coming years.
"I am really excited to have [Noh] for the next three years, she's going to be a really big part of our team," Smith said. "She is aggressive and has no problem going to goal, she doesn't try to go around people she will go through them."
Milne will boost La Cañada's offense next year with some senior leadership.
"She is another one like Christine who is really aggressive and is going to go out and play hard to win every game," Smith said. "She will play the full 50 minutes."
Seniors Pelayo-Brambila and Arroyo helped anchor Glendale defensively. Campbell said Pelayo-Brambila was the best ground ball player.
"It is a blow [graduating all four players] but we're young," Campbell said. "Next year will be the first year Glendale puts all 12 girls on the field with one year of experience. We've never been able to do that before."