Sage Hill's season ends at home

NEWPORT COAST — The Sage Hill School girls' soccer team wound up outscoring its two CIF Southern Section Division 6 opponents, 5-2, this season. But that will have to do for the Lightning, which fell to visiting South Pasadena, 2-0, in a second-round contest Wednesday.

The Rio Hondo League champion Tigers posted a 20-3 advantage on shots and dominated most of the possession, particularly in the second half, to extend their unbeaten streak to 20 games. South Pasadena (16-2-6) advances to the quarterfinals for the second straight year.

Sage Hill (13-6-3) will still have a 5-0 first-round playoff win over Alverno of Sierra Madre to talk about at the postseason banquet, where first-year coach Catie Chase will celebrate the contributions of seven seniors.

"They were all great leaders on the field," Chase said of a graduating class that includes co-captains Sanna Taskinen and Alexa Thomas.

Thomas, a goalkeeper, was supremely challenged in her prep swan song, as the Tigers peppered her with scoring chances that led to her five saves. Thomas leaped to punch a driving shot just over the crossbar early in the second half for her most dramatic save.

Senior midfielder Noosha Deravi cleared a ball near her own goal line to thwart another South Pasadena scoring chance in the 32nd minute.

Taskinen regularly directed the ball out of bounds to allow the Sage defense to collect itself, while senior midfielders Maddie Culberson and Rannah Dabiri were active throughout for the hosts.

Freshman Kekai Whitford produced the best scoring chance for Sage, a booming free kick from about 30 yards out that Tigers keeper Angelique Ulmer jumped to punch over the crossbar. Ulmer's only save of the game helped South Pasadena record its 14th shutout of the season.

Juniors Sophia Witte, Campbell Moore and Francesca D'Agostino were additional starters for Sage Hill, whose lineup was rounded out by freshman Paige Burke and sophomore Meg Crade.

Witte, Culberson, Dabiri, Crade and Whitford all had goals in the first-round win, which Chase said could be a springboard to better things to come for the Lightning.

"It's sad to see [the seniors] go," Chase said. "But they left the [returning] girls on the team something to look for. They set the tone for what this program is and what it's going to be in the coming years."

Chase said she was pleased with her entire team's effort Wednesday.

"We gave it everything we had," Chase said. "We came in confident and came out playing strong. Everyone gave 100% and that's all we asked for. We can't ask anything more."

South Pasadena scored in the eighth minute, connecting off a throw-in for the game-winning goal.

Senior Taylor Colliau fielded a throw-in and passed to sophomore Kelly Brady, who directed the ball into the net.

The Tigers doubled their lead in the 48th minute when sophomore Alexis Velasco converted a penalty kick set up when Sage Hill, the third-place team from the Academy League, was whistled for a foul in the 18-yard box.

South Pasadena nearly scored on a four-shot flurry that included one shot caroming off the crossbar late in the first half.

"We played a good game, the second half obviously better than the first," Tigers Coach Randy Lilavois said. "In the first half, we were playing a lot of balls down the middle, right to their keeper. The second half, we tried to keep them wide and that got us a lot more opportunities."

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

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