Spartans turn back Lancers

PASADENA — The differences between the La Cañada High and La Salle girls' soccer teams may have been most evident in the squads' post-game huddles following Friday's nonleague match at La Salle.

Spartans Coach Louie Bilowitz held a brief, five-minute conference that broke to smiles and giggles, while Lancers Coach Edgar Manvelyan spoke for nearly 20 minutes before concluding due to a warning that the stadium lights would be turned off in 10 minutes.

While the 2011-12 season was described by both coaches as a season of change, it's apparent the Spartans have adapted best early on after a 2-0 win.

"To be honest, I anticipated we'd be 3-3 at this point," Bilowitz said, as La Cañada improved to 5-1. "We're such a young team and we still have a long way to go."

The Spartans were outshot, 10-5, but won behind an opportunistic offense that iced the game in the 65th minute.

Spartans senior Morgan Rittichier, one of only four Spartans upperclassmen, took possession of a pass 25 yards from La Salle's goal and dribbled upfield until she was met by two defenders.

Then, in an impressive manner, Rittichier flipped the ball over both defenders to cutting freshman forward Francesca Mor, who fired a 10-yard bouncing shot that Lancers junior goalie Cassidy Rey was in position to stop.

Yet, as Rey dove to cradle the shot, the ball bounced out of her arms and into the path of Spartans sophomore Katrina Davis, who knocked in an uncontested six-yard goal to put La Cañada ahead, 2-0.

The score was the second that Rittichier had a foot in, as the left midfielder laced a 10-yard goal into the corner of the net in the sixth minute.

The goal was set up by a centering pass from sophomore Katie Wagner, as Rittichier received the ball and shed her defender for the score.

On the flip side, La Salle (1-3) put pressure on La Cañada's defense the entire match, but was unable to sneak a goal past Spartans keeper Haley Austin (seven saves).

The most frustrating turn of events, at least for the Lancers, may have taken place in the 64th minute as freshman forward Carina Crowder tracked down an errant pass near the opposing corner and dribbled around her defender.

Just as she was about to enter the goal area, Crowder lobbed a beautiful pass to junior teammate Ally Puga, who headed a seven-yard shot over the box and out of bounds.

It was on this miss that the Spartans set up their offense and scored a minute later.

Lancers' sophomore Kelly Synold also just missed on a rocketed direct kick in the 74th minute that Austin batted out of play.

"La Salle played really well and we were under pressure all game," Austin said. "I'm really thankful for my defense because they made plays. Without them, I would have had like 27 heart attacks out there."

As for La Salle, Manvelyan noted his frustration.

"We were kind of sleepy the first few minutes and then they capitalized on that and then we made a defensive mistake for La Cañada's second goal," Manvelyan said. "We outplayed them after the first six minutes of this game, but all we have is a loss."

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