NORTHEAST GLENDALE — With several of its players injured or out for the season, the Flintridge Prep girls' team still has Arielle Baptiste in the fold.
That can only stand to be a good thing for the Rebels, as Baptiste will be expected to shoulder a good portion of the offense this season following the graduation of standout Brooke Elby, a reigning All-Area first-team pick now playing at the University of North Carolina. Baptiste didn't wait long to make her presence felt.
Baptiste scored a pair of first-half goals to lead Flintridge Prep to a 5-0 home victory against Ramona Convent on Tuesday afternoon in a season-opening nonleague match for both teams at the Glendale Sports Complex.
"I look at it like I'm filling in for Brooke," said Baptiste, a senior forward who earned All-Area second-team accolades last season. "Those are definitely big shoes to fill."
Baptiste showed she could execute for the Rebels, who won the Prep League championship before advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division III quarterfinals last season, by playing with a physical edge.
Baptiste gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute. She took a perfect pass from defender Whitney Cohen and outmuscled Ramona Convent defender Amber Bugarin before beating goalkeeper Katie Gonzalez.
Flintridge Prep made it 2-0 in the 15th minute when Baptiste intercepted a clearing attempt by Gonzalez and then scored into an empty net. Baptiste nearly recorded a hat trick, but Gonzalez stopped Baptiste on a partial breakaway in the 33rd minute, one of 11 saves made by the freshman.
"She's athletic and aggressive," Flintridge Prep Coach Esteban Chavez said. "She gets to everything and you saw it with her goals."
Flintridge Prep, which saw Ramona Convent control the play from a territorial standpoint in the first 10 minutes of the contest, then received three goals in a 20-minute span in the second half.
Forward Kaelin King made it 3-0 with an unassisted goal in the 52nd minute. Defender Chelsea Johnson gave Flintridge Prep a 4-0 lead off a pass from midfielder Roya Gheissari in the 71st minute.
Forward Kate Kennedy closed out the scoring in the 72nd minute with an assist from Gheissari.
"Everybody stepped up for us," Baptiste said. "We are a team that will be playing more as a unit.
"We did really well."
The Rebels played without midfielder Kaitlin Liston (broken leg), defensive midfielder Kaitlyn Kelleher (ankle) and forward Samantha Davies (knee). Flintridge Prep also competed without defender Jordan Hutson, who will miss the entire season after suffering a anterior cruciate ligament injury in the summer.
Chavez said the rash of injuries will force him to mix and match with his lineup.
"We are not close to full strength and I'm not sure if we will be healthy [the rest of the season]," said Chavez, who received four saves from goalkeeper Casey Cousineau. "With the injuries we have, I wasn't expecting 5-0 because Ramona Convent is pretty decent.
"It's a great outcome for us."
Flintridge Prep will next compete in a nonleague road match at 5 p.m. today against San Marino.