By Fred Altieri
Sports Reporter 

CCHS Girls Soccer Finish Best Year in School History

 

George Laase

Culver City High School Girls Soccer team

Culver City High girls soccer has come of age. The current two-time Ocean League Champion Centaurs set a new standard by reaching the Finals of the 2019 CIF Division III Regional Championships. Despite falling 3-0 to Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy on a rainy Saturday afternoon, the girls completed the best year of any soccer program in the school's history.

"I'm immensely proud of what the girls accomplished. One mistake in the first half cost us the goal. We had shots from the outside but we didn't create enough to score," said second-year head coach Pete Bartlet.

"I felt like we made the adjustments in the second half to create opportunities. To be fair we came up against a team that was very solid. But this whole experience is going to hold us in good stead moving forward."

Leading up to what constituted the State Championship game against Sacred Heart played at St. Francis High in La Cañada Flintridge, the Centaurs (17-8-4) had just completed a grueling 28-game schedule in three months. Remarkably, they reached the Finals by avenging an earlier playoff loss in grand style just two days before when they upset No. 1 ranked Oak Hills High in sudden death.


After a defensive draw for much of the first half Culver City was fighting an uphill battle after Sacred Heart scored a goal off a rebound in the 32nd minute. Meanwhile, the Tologs' stanch midfield kept the Centaur offense at bay for much of the half, forcing a number of longs shot attempts at goal to go wide.

Bartlet on the only goal of the first half: "They overloaded the middle and got through, hit the post and it went right back to their player. A little bit unlucky in that regard, the fact that they got through the middle was really disappointing, but definitely a goal that we don't typically concede defensively."

"They have a very solid midfield so it's definitely tough to get through. It's why we tried to work the outsides as much as possible, trying to get our fullbacks higher up the field to create overloads. We were a bit tentative. So as a consequence we didn't create enough attacking opportunities."

The Centaurs were energized coming out in the second half but were soon upended when a typical defensive parry just inside the box resulted in a very questionable penalty call. Sacred Heart put the penalty kick into the back of net for a 2-0 lead, virtually putting the game on ice in the wet weather on the turf field.

"It knocked the momentum, the players' heads dropped and we had to recover from that disappointment. Mentally that was a real kick in the teeth," said Bartlet. "Now we're chasing the game and we have to take more risks. We make an adjustment here and there, try to be a bit more positive. But it just wasn't to be."


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The Regional Semifinal victory over Oak Hills on Thursday, February 28, was one for the books. 12 days earlier, in a CIF Southern Section Semifinal match, the Culver girls lost a tough 1-0 battle in freezing windy conditions on a practice field at Oak Hills High in the High Desert town of Hesperia. A heavy rain had rendered the stadium field unplayable.

Seeking revenge, the Centaurs trailed 1-0 after conceding a goal in the first half. Early in the second half they tied the score on a corner kick from junior defender Allegra Weil to sophomore midfielder Natalia Contreras.

Bartlet: "It was a corner kick that was played into the penalty box. She just attacked it and made it hers, caught it beautifully and that was it into the back of the net.

Culver's resilient defense played the high-powered Bulldogs offense to a stalemate until the end of regulation. The match went to penalty kicks. The Centaurs upped the intensity by making their first three kicks by sophomore Jasmine Andrade and juniors Weil and Jordan Weiss. Oak Hills missed on their third try but tied it, 3-3, with their fourth kick in overtime.

Enter sudden death. The Bulldogs missed on their first attempt setting the stage for Erin Marble. The senior defender put the exclamation on the comeback by promptly booting the winner into the back of the goal, sending the Centaurs into the Finals for the first time ever.

"They scored about 15 minutes into the first half. It was a very intense half but we did not do a very good job of keeping the ball. We went with a back-five essentially so we had enough numbers to build out of the backfield. We were expecting an onslaught from them trying to take advantage of the wind.

"Fortunately for us we managed to do a good job. We had to win headers, clear our lines and get up quickly. It was a very intense second half. Our goalkeeper, Cara Conroy, was outstanding because there were a couple of hairy moments."

The 2019 Culver City High girls soccer team roster (Uniform No., Player, Position, School Year): 1 Cara Conroy, GK, Jr; 2 Erin Marble, D, Sr; 4 Tia Lucas, F/MF, Fr; 5 Maggie Lezcano, D, Sr; 6 Charlie Kayem, F/MF, Jr; 7 Victoria Martinez, F/MF, Jr; 8 Jasmine Andrade, D/MF, So; 9 Alexia Mallahi, MF, Jr; 10 Brooke Dunlap, MF, Sr; and 11 Valentina MacEira, MF, Fr.

12 Brooklyn Hamilton, F/MF, Jr; 13 Sophie Doumitt, F/MF, So; 15 Allegra Weil, D/MF, Jr; 16 Emily De Los Santos, D/MF, So; 17 Caley Coleman, D, Jr; 18 Jordan Weiss, D, Jr; 20 Sararya Mirasol, FB/F, Fr; 21 Natalia Contreras, MF, So; 27 Sierra Chabola, F/MF, Jr; 27 Rowan Atwood, D/FB, So; 35 Grace Weil, D/FB, Fr; and 51 Heather Nicklas, FB, Fr.

"The team chemistry is very good. There are no egos. There's no entitlement. The three captains are actually our three seniors and they lead by example. They have each other's back and there are very strong bonds from the freshmen all the way through to the seniors. Last year, Emily De Los Santos was our top scorer as a freshman. This year she's done it again."

I like the fact that the girls are disappointed because that shows their mentality. The girls are really on the same page to work together and that's been part of the reason they have been so successful this year. They have made history at Culver City High School.

George Laase

 

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