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Even in loss, La Cañada High girls' soccer defense held strong

Soccer: Spartans' unit was reliable again, even in 1-0 defeat in Division V title match.

March 08, 2014|By Andrew J. Campa, andrew.campa@latimes.com
  • La Cañada High girls' soccer coach Louie Bilowitz holds the runner-up trophy after his squad played in the CIF-SS Girls Division V championship match versus St. Margaret's at Corona High on Saturday. The Spartans lost, 1-0, in overtime on a penalty kick. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
La Cañada High girls' soccer coach Louie…

CORONA — Throughout the perfect run of the La Cañada High girls’ soccer team this season, perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the squad’s success was its defense.

Certainly, the numbers were difficult to ignore.

A unit that lacked glamour made up that for that deficiency in grit en route to a 22-0-1 record heading into Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Division V championships at Corona High versus upstart St. Margaret’s.

Of the Spartans’ 22 victories, 15 came via shutouts, while the team allowed a total of 10 goals this season.

On Saturday morning, those figures skewed ever so slightly, just not in favor of the Rio Hondo League-champion Spartans, as the squad surrendered an overtime penalty-kick goal in falling, 1-0, in the team’s first-ever visit to a championship game.

“Its’ been a really amazing defense all year,” Spartans junior fullback Simone Weinstein said. “I feel like we all do it for each other. The defense is really connected and I really don’t know what went wrong in this game. I think we should have definitely won.”

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What perhaps wasn’t talked about as much was the defense’s ability to also help out its offense.

In certain matches this season, the Spartans defense proved to be a security blanket, providing trust when the offense started slow, much like in Saturday’s game.

Versus Hemet in Tuesday’s divisional semifinal, the Spartans were outshot, 6-2, before rallying in the second half behind scores from Megan Decker and Katherine Sheehy to take control and ultimately win, 2-0.

A day earlier, the Spartans fell behind, 1-0, to host Sage Hill before the offense broke through and eventually helped pull out a 1-1 (7-6) victory by penalty kicks.

“We knew this year that we’d really be able to rely on our defense,” Sheehy said. “When we’ve struggled in games to get the offense going, kind of like today, we’ve known that our defense was going to keep us in it until we figured out what changes needed to be made.

“We knew that we would eventually find a way to score and that was a great comfort.”

On Saturday, the Spartans defense weathered a 6-4 shots-against ratio in the first half in the hopes the offense would find the back of the opponent’s net.

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