GLENDALE — It’s not often that a player from a team that finishes in the bottom half of the league standings is rewarded with said league’s top honor.
Hence Glendale High girls’ soccer player Sarah Mizuki’s surprise after receiving news that she had been voted co-Pacific League Most Valuable Player.
“It feels really great, I’m honored,” said Mizuki, who garnered all-league and All-Area honors in each of her previous two seasons. “I was really surprised, actually. I thought I’d probably make first team, but I didn’t think I’d be MVP.”
Mizuki, a senior midfielder who tallied seven goals, shared the honor with Arcadia’s Ann Marie Tangorra.
“I was definitely disappointed that we didn’t make the playoffs,” she said. “So getting league MVP, I felt that some of my hard work finally paid off.”
Apparently, Mizuki’s hard work made an impression on some of the league coaches, as well.
“I just threw her name out there,” Glendale first-year Coach Dino Barbiera said. “A lot of coaches remembered her and thought very highly of her.
“She was a great leader. ...She sees the field so well.”
Three locals garnered first-team honors, with the same number named to the second team.
Junior Tori Baldridge and senior Kim Carcich represented third-place Crescenta Valley on the first team, while Hoover senior Celia Flores got the Tornadoes’ first-team nod.
“She was the key to our defense. ...She’s very versatile,” said first-year Falcons Coach Heather Fraschetti of Baldridge, who had nine goals and played a major role on both sides of the ball. “A lot of our offense started and went through Kim.”
Carcich, who had eight goals, and Baldridge were both first-team all-league picks and All-Area selections in 2007.
Hoover, which ended the season with its biggest highlight, as it bested archrival Glendale, was led all season by Flores.
“She was a very good example to the younger players,” first-year Hoover Coach Carlos Rojas said. “She’s an excellent athlete, she contributed a lot this year.”
Crescenta Valley junior midfielder Veronica Aguilar, who had seven goals, and junior defender Danny Cardenas made the second team.
Glendale sophomore utility player Gabby Chiriboga, who had 14 goals and is likely one of the league’s most underrated players, garnered a second-team nod, as well.
Hoover’s Teresa Coccinello and Glendale’s Natalie Diaz received honorable mention.
Perhaps surprisingly, Falcons junior forward Brittany Berger, who had six goals and was a first-team pick a year ago, only received honorable mention, as well.
The biggest local snub might very well have been Falcons junior forward Alex Barrett-Scherrer, who led the Falcons with 15 goals.
GRANT GORDON is the sports editor. He can be reached at (818) 637-3225 or email@example.com.