LA CAÑADA — The Lady Spartans were hoping to close the season last Thursday without a loss, but instead walked off in defeat after visiting Monrovia won 1-0 in both teams' last league game. The Spartans created multiple chances to score during their mostly offensive play, but were unable to connect with the goal.
"We definitely dominated," said Head Coach Louis Bilowitz. "But I'd rather it [the loss] happen now than in the playoffs."
During a scoreless first half, La Cañada kept control over the ball with tight passing and few turnovers — but not many shots on goal.
The ball rarely saw Monrovia's offensive end due to strong Spartan defense. A pause in game play when Wildcat's Head Coach Randy Medina was given a yellow card did not hinder the Spartans' focused attitude.
"I think they are just playing a defensive game," commented La Cañada High School Athletic Director Randy Boal. A win or tie would have given the Spartans an uncontested first place in the Rio Hondo League. Bilowitz's Spartans, now 6-1-3 at the conclusion of league play, are tied with Monrovia (also 6-1-3) for the No. 1 spot.
The Spartan defense was the anchor of the second half of play, allowing only a few shots on goal.
Up until late in the second half, Monrovia hadn't had a solid offensive run. The Wildcats then charged downfield on a breakaway as the Spartans got caught in their own off-side trap, leaving a two-on-one opportunity for the Wildcats. Monrovia sophomore Shannon Brooks took a conservative shot in the lower left corner of the net and the ball slid past Spartans' goalie Colleen Boyd for the 1-0 lead.
Despite extra time on the clock to make up for stopped play when an injury occurred between Monrovia's goalie and La Cañada's Caroline Na, the Spartans were not able to score.
"It was not a bad game," Bilowitz said. "These are the mistakes we learn from."
The Lady Spartans now face Santa Fe High School, No. 2 in the Del Rio League, in Santa Fe Springs on Friday afternoon at 3.
A win will take La Cañada to round two of CIF playoffs on Tuesday.