TEMPLE CITY — With an opportunity to clinch a share of a first league title in three years, the La Cañada High girls’ soccer team certainly wasted little time Tuesday afternoon.
The visiting Spartans scored two goals within the first six minutes of their Rio Hondo League match and had little difficulty in a 4-0 victory at Temple City High.
With the triumph, the CIF Southern Section Division V second-ranked Spartans continued their unbeaten run as the squad improved to 17-0-1 overall and 8-0-1 in league, which secured La Cañada half of its first league championship since the 2010-11 season.
All that remains is if the Spartans will share their crown as they host reigning league champion San Marino (12-4-2, 7-1-1) in the season finale Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The Spartans won the first match at San Marino, 2-1, on Jan. 29 and the Titans need a victory to forge a split.
“It’s obviously nice to win a championship,” La Cañada Coach Louie Bilowitz said. “We did a very good job in the first 20 to 30 minutes. We were right on the game and were making the right runs and doing well and that helped us to a nice start.”
The trio of Cassy Quiring, Megan Decker and Katherine Sheehy helped propel La Cañada to a 2-0 lead six minutes into the contest.
Quiring scored from 10 yards on a through ball from left winger Sheehy in the third minute as the Spartans quickly pounced on the Rams’ defense.
Three minutes later, perhaps Decker capped the most aesthetically pleasing score when she brilliantly headed a goal past Temple City goalie Monica Rogers (eight saves) thanks in part to a great cross from Quiring, which put La Cañada ahead, 2-0.
“I think we just listened to our coach and we worked as a team to get the ball forward,” said Sheehy, when asked about the reason behind her team’s fast start. “This is an uneven, bumpy field, so you have to really keep your focus.”
The Spartans then iced the game in the 32nd minute when senior striker Brianna Albarian knocked in a rebound goal off a shot from Sheehy that clanked off the post and right into the path of Albarian.
“We’ve started games slowly lately,” Albarian said. “In order to set the tone for the game we have to score quickly and this is the type of game that can make or break our season. It was really important for us to work together and get our goals early.”
In the first half alone, the Spartans outshot the Rams (11-10-3, 3-5-1) by a 12-3 margin as La Cañada eventually won the shots battle, 18-5, in notching its 12th shutout this season.
Perhaps the three-goal advantage led to a bit of slow down for the Spartans in the second half, as they added only one additional goal from Sheehy off an assist from Quiring in the 69th minute.
Temple City, in comparison, mounted a few decent attacks, including a two-girl combination from Alexis Acosta to Sara Kubo that sailed wide from 10 yards in the 67th minute.
Kubo also connected on a 35-yard blast off a free kick that required a backpedaling save from Spartans goalie Kaitlyn Corral (three saves) in the 76th minute.
“We lost our focus in the second half,” Bilowitz said. “I asked at halftime to keep focus and we didn’t keep disciplined. It’s hard to sometimes to keep up the focus when you get a lead, but we came away with the win.”