SAN MARINO — Flintridge Prep Coach Esteban Chavez came up with a plan of attack after the Rebels battled through a scoreless first half against San Marino Wednesday.
Chavez noticed the Titans’ goalie, Elizabeth Hannan, was allowing rebound opportunities, so he told his players to put as many shots on net as possible.
“We saw in the first half [Hannan] never caught one ball, but she made some good saves,” Chavez said. “We told the girls to just hit it direct and make sure they follow.”
The suggestion paid off with 25 minutes left in the second half when Prep’s Kaelin King cleaned up a rebound. The goal stood up for a 1-0 Flintridge Prep victory at San Marino, as the Rebels improved to 2-0 behind a strong, team effort on defense.
“We are playing better soccer than we did last year, already,” Chavez said. “Not that we’re better than last year, but it’s more quality soccer, which is really impressive.”
The real difference maker was King’s goal, though. The rebound came off a free-kick shot about 25 yards out from Prep’s Marisa Alfaro. Alfaro put the shot in the middle of the net and Hannan made the save, but left a rebound right in front of the goal that King knocked in for a 1-0 lead in the final 25 minutes.
“I just felt I had to get it in,” King said. “When you’re two yards away, you really can’t miss. I just did my best with it and luckily it went in.”
The Titans struggled offensively with just one shot on goal in the game, which was saved by Prep’s goalie, Casey Cousineau.
“We are still trying to figure out our identity [on offense] — how we combine and how the girls play together,” San Marino Coach Jaime Acuña said. “We are still putting the pieces together, but credit them. [Prep] did what they had to do, eliminated our chances and got away with the win.”
The Rebels generated several offensive chances, firing six shots on goal (five of which were saved by Hannan) in the game. It was Prep’s back line that got the most praise from Chavez, though.
“[San Marino] is filled with speed,” Chavez said. “The girls were able to contain that by doing what they’re supposed to in the back. There was always cover behind whoever was pressuring.
“If we did it wrong once, they would have gotten behind us. They just had blazing speed.”
San Marino’s best scoring opportunity came late in the first half. A header off a Titans’ free kick was just off target, but the Titans’ Alana Hillman stayed on the attack. Hillman fired a shot from the top right corner of the box and Cousineau came up with an impressive save before it went into the top left corner of the net.
Acuña knew playing Prep, a CIF Southern Section Division III team, would be a challenge for his Titans, a Division VI squad.
“It’s a test for us to see where we stand,” Acuña said. “It’s always fun to play better teams. As the season goes along, this will only help us.”