Championship drive ends short for Flintridge Prep girls’ soccer

Championship drive ends short for Flintridge Prep girls’ soccer
Despite two goals from Mika Celeste, Flintridge Prep girls' soccer lost its CIF Southern Section semifinal match versus South Torrance, 5-2, at Flintridge Prep on Tuesday. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)

LA CAÑADA — For eight straight matches, the Flintridge Prep girls' soccer team bullied, harassed and battered opponents on a run that propelled the squad to a Prep League championship and the program's first semifinals appearance in 15 seasons.

On Tuesday afternoon, the No. 6-ranked Rebels found themselves on the opposite end of a postseason blitz, as they surrendered four first-half goals and fell to visiting second-seeded South Torrance, 5-2, in the CIF Southern Section Division III semifinals.

The victory vaulted the Pioneer League champion Spartans (20-1-2) into this weekend's championship match against Bishop Amat or Claremont.

The defeat ended a streak of eight straight shutouts for the Rebels (22-4-3), who had outscored opponents, 46-0, since a 2-0 loss to archrival Pasadena Poly on Jan. 14. Five goals is also a season high in goals allowed for the Rebels.

"I told the girls that they were getting a taste of what they do to other teams," Flintridge Prep Coach Esteban Chavez said. "[South Torrance] broke us down and they're outstanding. They have a lot of good individuals, but I have to give it to them, they're actually a pretty good team."

The Rebels surrendered three straight goals within a five-minute span and trailed, 4-1, by the 20th minute.

Far from folding, the Rebels attempted a rally that began when junior halfback Mika Celeste scored her second goal off a three-player combination that consisted of her, Julia Gonzalez and Helen Schaefer in the 25th minute to halve the deficit, 4-2.

Seven minutes later, the Rebels had a breakaway attempt with a pass just wide that resulted in a shot into the arms of Spartans goalie Hayley Garriott as South Torrance took a two-goal lead into the half.

While Flintridge Prep switched its formation at halftime and moved another player forward, the adjustment didn't help much as the team was out shot, 11-4, in the second half and 25-8 for the match.

The move eventually allowed South Torrance to deliver the last score in the 62nd minute when a through ball from Cody Johnson resulted in a goal from Katelyn Patterson that put South Torrance up, 5-2.

"At the end of the day, we just played our game and we knew what we were comfortable with," South Torrance Coach Elizabeth Kitsios said. "We knew that playing on this short field that we'd have to dominate up front and we did for the most part, but Flintridge Prep also exposed a couple of mistakes and this is a good learning tool for us."

South Torrance scored really fast in the first half to break the Rebels' scoring streak with a goal two minutes into the match from senior Holly Kaemerle, who finished with two goals.

Flintridge Prep answered and, in the process, snapped a seven-match shutout streak by South Torrance with a goal from Mika Celeste on an assist from Schaeffer in the ninth minute that evened the score at 1.

South Torrance then flexed its muscles with a goal from Bridgette Campbell in the 16th minute, a score from Kaemerle in the 18th minute and a goal from Mina Ghazizadeh in the 20th minute for a three-goal-in-five-minute blitz.

"This is definitely the best team that we played against and it was a really tough game for us," Celeste said. "I feel like we played well, but it just hurts because we've never been this far and I wanted to go a little bit further."