Lauren Stiles saves day for Flintridge Prep girls' soccer in playoff opener

LA CAÑADA — For somebody who had never experienced a penalty-kick session, Lauren Stiles appeared rather calm standing on the goal line looking to keep her team’s postseason hopes alive.

Stiles, a sophomore goalkeeper for the burgeoning Flintridge Prep girls’ soccer team, accepted the encounter before turning in a heroic performance which led to her being embraced by her teammates.

PHOTOS: Flintridge Prep beats Malibu with a 2-2 (2-1) victory

Stiles stopped four penalty kicks and Kaitlin Liston scored the game-winning penalty kick to lead host Flintridge Prep to a 2-2 (2-1) victory against Malibu on Friday in a CIF Southern Section Division III first-round match.

Flintridge Prep (13-4-5) will next meet Granite Hills, which posted a 4-0 victory against Santa Maria St. Joseph’s, on Wednesday in a second-round match at a site to be determined by a coin flip. Malibu finished 15-9-2.

“It’s my first year as a goalie and normally I’ve been a midfielder,” said Stiles, who also stopped a penalty shot in the second half. “I got more confident with every round in the penalty kicks.

“We worked on penalty kicks in practice most of the week. You basically have to pick a side in guessing which way the shooter will go. We showed a lot of strength winning the game.”

Flintridge Prep, which finished second in the Prep League behind top-seeded Pasadena Poly, held a 2-0 lead midway through the second half. Flintridge Prep’s Alexis Gordon was then given a red card for an intentional hand ball in front of the Flintridge Prep goal, resulting in the Rebels playing the remainder of the contest short-handed.

Malibu, which placed third in the Tri-Valley League, scored a pair of goals in the final four minutes of regulation to send the game into overtime and then penalty kicks.

The Sharks had the Rebels scrambling following Gordon’s departure, but the Rebels persevered for the remainder of the match.

In the penalty-kick session, Stiles stopped Malibu’s Carmen Flood and Erin Samuel in the first two rounds. Malibu goalkeeper Nina Hungerland turned aside a first-round shot before Cassie Redding scored to give the Rebels a 1-0 advantage.

In the third round, Malibu’s Danica Downing tied it at 1. Liston then concluded the round with a goal to make it 2-1 before Stiles made two more saves to clinch the victory.

“I looked up and was able to put the shot in,” said Liston, a senior midfielder. “I’m still trying to take in everything that happened in the game.

“We felt like we had a good chance with Lauren in goal and we just had to stay confident.”

Flintridge Prep, which improved to 8-0-2 in its last 10 matches, grabbed a 1-0 lead on a goal by freshman midfielder Ali Sivilotti off a corner kick by sophomore forward Katherine Pinney in the 17th minute. The Rebels extended the lead to 2-0 in the 26th minute on a goal by Chelsea Johnson, a senior defender.

Flintridge Prep appeared to have things in control before the game’s strangest moment occurred in the 59th minute. Gordon was ejected after jumping up to bat away a shot that appeared to be heading into the net. Gordon must sit out the Rebels’ next match for the infraction.

Stiles then stopped a penalty shot by Jane Sidley.

“I just reacted the right way on where she would shoot,” said Stiles, who finished with a combined eight saves in regulation and overtime.

With a one-man advantage the rest of the way, the Sharks stormed Flintridge Prep territory. Malibu pulled to within 2-1 on a goal by Flood in the 76th minute before Abby Blackwood tied it in the 79th minute.

Flintridge Prep sixth-year Coach Esteban Chavez said the Rebels were confident Stiles would be ready to respond during the penalty kicks.

“She’s a super-confident goalkeeper who is a team player and has a good attitude,” Chavez said. “We’ve had her go through 25-30 penalty shots in practice all week.

“The most important thing was that we were able to control our emotions after they scored those two goals. We have a young team that’s come so far and they are finding ways to win.”


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