Rebels alone at top in win over Westridge

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — In listening to Flintridge Prep girls’ soccer Coach Esteban Chavez, one wouldn't realize his team just won its third consecutive Prep League title.
The coach expects more out of his squad.

“I'm trying not to be negative, but going into the playoffs, it was disappointing how we played,” said Chavez following the Rebels’ 1-0 victory against Westridge at home on Thursday.
The win wrapped up the regular season and an outright league championship, with the CIF playoffs coming next week.

Chavez cited a lack of his team's typical high-energy, pesky play that is more typical of its make-up and a key to the team winning the Prep League.

“I don't know why we didn't show it today,” Chavez said. “It just wasn't there. I've never had that issue.”

Flintridge Prep (15-2-1 overall, 9-1 league) scored in the fourth minute when Kaelin King struck the ball down the left sideline. Arielle Baptiste took the pass and floated a shot off the side of her right foot into the back of the net.

“The ball was bouncing and I knew the only way I could get to it was with the outside of my foot, so I just hit it,” Baptiste said. “It was in the air, so it was kind of hard to control, but it was a good pass. I just had to run to get to it.”

The Rebels had plenty of opportunities to cushion their lead as the match progressed, but couldn't connect. Part of that was the play of Westridge goalkeeper Ashley Hebard, who had 10 saves.

“We had opportunities and were not sharp today,” Chavez said. “Better today than in the first game of the playoffs.”

Considering how well the team moved the ball against Westridge, Baptiste is confident the Rebels are ready for the postseason.

“As long as we take care of our injuries, we'll be fine,” Baptiste said. “Mentally, yeah, for sure. We're all ready to compete.”

For Westridge, the narrow loss to Prep was a moral victory of sorts. The team finished the year 1-10-2 overall and 0-9-1 in league, including a 5-0 loss at home to Prep last month.

“We finished very strong compared to how we started,” said Westridge Coach Felipe Rodriguez. “I think we finished close to where I want them to be. At the end we understood our functions. From the first round of the season to the second round of the season, it was a big change. Everything was positive.”

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