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La Cañada High girls' soccer finishes regular season as undefeated champs with win over San Marino

Soccer: Spartans strike early en route to 3-1 win, outright Rio Hondo League title.

February 13, 2014|By Emin Avakian, Special to the Valley Sun
  • La Cañada High's Megan Decker attempts to bypass a San Marino defender during Thursday afternoon's Rio Hondo League season finale. The Spartans won, 3-1. (Photo Courtesy of Doug Brown)
La Cañada High's Megan Decker attempts…

LA CAÑADA —Not that the La Cañada girls’ soccer team needed extra motivation to win a match versus Rio Hondo League rival San Marino, but there were extraordinary implications in its regular season finale with the Titans on Thursday afternoon.

First and foremost, the Spartans were playing for the outright Rio Hondo League championship three days after clinching at least a share of the league title — their first since the 2010-2011 season.

Moreover, an undefeated season was at stake for the host Spartans. And lastly, perhaps a top-two seed in the CIF Division V playoffs was to be determined at the conclusion of the match with San Marino, the defending league champions.

Ultimately, La Cañada, ranked No. 2 in the division, didn’t falter, and instead overcame the pressure to make quick work of the Titans with three goals in the first half en route to a 3-1 victory that clinches the Rio Hondo League title outright and has the Spartans as the top seed of the CIF Division V playoffs.

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Spartans Coach Louie Bilowitz addressed the La Cañada faithful after the match, praising his squad and particularly his seniors for being instrumental in the program’s first-ever undefeated campaign.

“We were hungry,” said Bilowitz about the team’s mindset coming into the match. “We worked on some new defensive tactics — things I haven’t shown them before and they paid off today. They responded well, did it, and we shut their offense down.”

La Cañada (18-0-1, 9-0-1) defeated San Marino, 2-1, earlier in the season on Jan. 29. It was previously the only setback in league play for San Marino (12-5-2, 7-2-1), and a split of the season series would not only mean the teams sharing the league title, but also a coin toss in the coming days to determine the top seed in the upcoming playoffs.

The Spartans, however, ranked No. 2 in the division during the regular season, made sure to prevail in the task at hand, and avoid things being out of their control.

“We’re always pumped to play San Marino,” Spartans senior co-captain Olivia Leyva said. “They’re always competitive and we’re probably the two most competitive teams in our league. We work hard each year to achieve our goals, and beating San Marino is one of them.”

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