LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Maybe it was the smaller field, the boisterous home crowd, the bruising defense or a sense of revenge that guided the Flintridge Prep girls' soccer team in Prep League play Wednesday afternoon.
Or maybe it was just control of the Prep League that was most appealing to the Rebels, who scored two goals in each half in shocking visiting Poly, 4-2, on their campus.
The win keeps the Rebels (12-2-1 overall, 6-1 in league) atop the league standings ahead of Poly (15-3, 5-2), which won the first meeting between the two schools, 3-2, on Jan. 11.
"I told the girls that Poly is going to score on us, but that we had to go after them," Prep Coach Esteban Chavez said. "We took that approach, but they bought into that."
The Rebels had their 2-0 lead halved when Panthers junior Katie Wardlaw scored from 13 yards on a ball that banked in from the post off an assist from Sarah Mendenhall in the 45th minute.
The score came two minutes after the Rebels nearly scored on a 45-yard free kick from goalie Casey Cousineau that hit off the post and cross, but didn't score.
Prep's third goal finally came in the 56th minute when senior forward Arielle Baptiste sent a long ball down the opponent's touchline in the direction of junior Kaelin King.
The Rebels' forward outraced one defender to the ball and then broke down another before firing a beautiful right-to-left shot off her left foot that scored far post to put Flintridge Prep up, 3-1.
Prep then exhaled a bit when junior defender Abby Letts scored on a penalty kick in the 63rd minute called after Poly senior Anna Wohl took down Baptiste in the penalty area.
The Panthers made a final rally when junior Catherine Boyer sent a pass to teammate Noel Askins, who held off two defenders and fired a 10-yard goal in the 68th minute to complete the scoring.
Defensive-minded Flintridge Prep collected both its first-half scores on set pieces, with the first goal coming in the 15th minute.
A Letts throw-in from 30 yards was received by junior Whitney Cohen, who crossed a pass from the middle of the field to the right corner of the goal area.
The pass was corralled by junior forward Samantha Davies, who chipped in a 10-yard shot past goalie Julia Yun for the Rebels' first score.
The second goal happened 14 minutes later, with Letts proving to be the catalyst again.
The midfielder's 25-yard throw-in from the visitor's sideline landed in the middle of the penalty area and was kicked around a couple of times until Baptiste banged home a seven-yarder.
"In practice, we worked on set pieces and that turned out to really help us in the game," Letts said. "We felt like we were the better team when we played them the first time and owed ourselves this win."
Most of Poly's first-half shots came from outside the crease with maybe the best looking one coming in the 11th minute when a 15-yard shot from Askins was wide of goal by a yard.
"We fell a little bit into a hole. [Flintridge Prep] didn't do anything special, but they put the ball in the box," Poly Coach Patrick Gray said. "They have a girl who can really throw the ball in and they took advantage of that."