Spartans, Titans settle nothing

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — One team wanted a win, the other simply needed it.

So, neither left entirely satisfied following Friday afternoon's outcome.

A 1-1 stalemate left the La Cañada High girls' soccer team in second place in the Rio Hondo League, with visiting San Marino trailing in the third slot.

With a win Tuesday over South Pasadena, the Spartans can overtake the Tigers atop the league standings. Though still in the playoff hunt, the Titans' odds of winning league shrunk after Friday's draw.

"A couple games left, anything can happen," San Marino Coach Jaime Acuna said, optimistically.

The door was open for either team Friday.

The Spartans (4-1-3 in league) won the shot differential, 12-9, though it was much closer in the second half. Their senior goalkeeper, Haley Austin, also made critical saves (four in the second half) along with a couple key disruptions.

"She did very well in the second half," La Cañada Coach Louie Bilowitz said. "She struggled a little on the first goal [allowed], but the rest of the way she played well."

Both teams traded goals in the fourth and fifth minute, with the Titans striking first. Jordyn Duncan delivered a cross from the right wing to sophomore Haley Thompson, who netted the goal from eight yards out.

"She made an excellent execution and I was just in the right place at the right time," Thompson said. "We worked hard from the start and I think that's what allowed us to capitalize off their one mistake."

On the next offensive sequence, Natalie Ragusa found fellow freshmen Megan Decker in similar fashion, with the shot sailing past the San Marino keeper.

La Cañada went into the break firing off three unanswered shots on goal, and opening the second half with the same enthusiasm.

In the 72nd minute, the Spartans came up empty on a pair of scoring chances, with Cassie Quiring misfiring the final attempt moments later.

Unable to convert its last opportunity in the 74th minute, San Marino (3-1-3 in league) accepted a draw.

"We'll take it," Acuna said. "It's a tie away from home, at a tough opponent's place. It's always tough to play here. We played hard and we had a chance to win."

Though not a victory, the tie marked some steady improvement by La Cañada, which endured its only league loss of the season, 2-1, at the hands of San Marino on Jan. 13.

"I thought we played very well," Bilowitz said. "I thought the movement of the ball was terrific. Our passing was good, our runs were good. We put a lot of pressure up there, we just didn't finish.

"We have a team of 18 players and 14 of them are freshmen or sophomores. So we're the youngest team in the league, by far. So, we have to win on playing good soccer and today we played good soccer. We just didn't win the game."

After Tuesday's match at South Pasadena, the Spartans close out their league schedule Thursday against visiting Monrovia.

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