LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Deciding the winner in a soccer game that goes to penalty kicks is a lot like flipping a coin, Flintridge Prep girls' Coach Esteban Chavez said.
The Rebels wound up on the wrong side of the coin Friday when they hosted Chino Hills, which finished third in the Sierra League, in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.
Huskies goalie Merrick Ives was tough all day and unbeatable in penalties, stopping all four penalty shots that came her way to clinch an upset, 1-1 (2-0), victory over Prep that left the Rebels in tears.
"Right now there's nothing I am going to say that's going to make them feel better," Chavez said. "I have been through this a lot of times and unless you win the whole thing you just go through it. I let them know I am proud of them and I understand it's disappointing. That's all I have to say because the more I say the more emotional they get."
Chino Hills Coach Tom Hummer couldn't say enough about his keeper.
"Merrick is a solid goalkeeper," said Hummer of his goalie, who had a game-high 10 saves. "She's the general out there on the defensive end and she made some great saves. [Prep] has a lot of skill, but I think Merrick just played a fantastic game."
It was an even defensive battle as both teams had 17 shots in the game with the Rebels getting seven on goal and the Huskies five.
"I thought the whole game we played pretty good," Chavez said. "It was a pretty even game, I am not disappointed at all with how we played."
Flintridge Prep (15-3-1), the three-time reigning Prep League champion, had been down just 19 minutes through 18 regular season games coming into Friday but found itself down, 1-0, in the 31st minute off a counter-attack goal from Chino Hills (17-4-5).
It all started when Prep keeper Casey Cousineau came out of the goal to take a 40-yard free kick, but her shot was saved and quickly turned into a Huskies attack.
Cousineau (five saves) got back into position just as Chino Hills' Dayna Garcia sent a low pass across the goal from the left side of Prep's box to teammate Ashley Gonzales, who ran up and kicked the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.
The deficit lasted for 39 minutes, as Prep's Arielle Baptiste knotted the score in the 70th minute on a deep throw-in pass from Abby Letts.
It was Prep's seventh deep throw of the game and Ives had ran out to grab most of them, but didn't get there before Baptiste, whose header slowly rolled in for an equalizing goal.
"We definitely got momentum [from the goal]," Chavez said. "I thought we were going to pull it out in the end or, if not, in overtime."
The game-winner never came from the Rebels, though, and Chino Hills' Emily Adams and Denise Garcia scored their penalty kicks after the Huskies' first shot was saved by Cousineau.