A historic season for the Flintridge Prep girls' soccer team netted a slew of honors on the All-Prep League team
Rebels sophomore Helen Schaefer was named the Prep League Most Valuable Offensive Player, senior Jillian Brady shared the defensive co-MVP and Flintridge Prep merited eight combined first- and second-team selections.
Flintridge Prep finished with a 23-5-3 record, which included a league title. The Rebels posted a 4-2 postseason record, marked by the team's first advancement to the CIF Southern Section Division III semifinals in 15 seasons.
The Rebels also picked up a state playoff victory, a first for the program, before falling in the CIF Southern California Regional Semifinals. Both of Flintridge Prep's postseason losses were to Southern Section Division III and CIF SoCal Division III champion South Torrance.
Schaefer, a forward, was a catalyst for her team's success and also earned an All-CIF Southern Section Division III first-team selection.
"She's the total package," Flintridge Prep Coach Esteban Chavez said. "Look at the numbers, the balance she provides. What people love about Helen is her work ethic, which is ridiculous."
Schaefer led the area in assists (30), tied for the area lead in goals (31) and was a clutch contributor.
"I'm extremely grateful and thankful for Chavez and for the team standing next to me and supporting me with this award," Schaefer said. "It really wasn't just me, it was everyone. We did this together and I'm grateful for everyone. We all stepped up this year and accomplished some crazy things."
While Schaefer's exploits weren't unexpected coming off a freshman season in which she tallied 38 goals and 14 assists, perhaps no one was a bigger surprise than Brady and her defense.
The senior centerback split the league's top defensive award with Mayfield Senior's Lauren Lo Coco. The honor comes after Brady missed nearly the entire 2015-16 season due to injury.
Not only did Brady heal and work her way back, but she also had her position switched from outside to centerback.
"It was tough to come back, but I got a lot of guidance from teammates and coaches," said Brady, who tallied three assists. "Everyone on the team was really helpful. We were a really young defense and our only returner was goalie Lindsey Uteda. So, we all grew and improved together."
Brady was part of a defense that registered 17 shutouts, including a spectacular streak of eight straight such efforts from Feb. 3 to Feb. 24.
As for the league's first team, Chavez gained three additional selections in junior halfback Julia Gonzalez, sophomore halfback Mika Celeste and junior midfielder Mona Cesario.
Gonzalez, the reigning All-Area Girls' Soccer Player of the Year, turned in another stellar season as the midfielder tallied 31 goals and 22 assists. Like Schaefer, Gonzalez was also tabbed an All-CIF first-team choice.
"When you look at her and Helen, they're both unbelievable players," Chavez said. "Julia was the Prep League [Offensive] MVP last season and she could have won it again this year with those numbers. She's a great finisher and has amazing instinct."
Perhaps lost in all the offensive firepower provided by Schaefer and Gonzalez was a stellar season by Celeste, who was a strong postseason scorer and finished with 23 goals and 16 assists.
"She's a player who's definitely improved from last year," Chavez said. "Her growth has come because of her physicality. She was a crafty, elegant player last season, but she wouldn't get dirty. She's not afraid this year and she's definitely a better one-on-one defender. She's a complete player."
Cesario tallied seven goals and nine assists and performed many tough tasks.
"She's our unsung hero and she's provided not only an amazing work ethic, but soccer smarts, too," Chavez said. "She's a very technical player and is always involved in big plays. She's getting the big steal or making the first pass that starts something. She was humongous for our team."