Pasadena Poly girls' soccer shoots down Crescenta Valley
Pasadena Poly Panthers stop Crescenta Valley Falcons, 3-0, in second round of CIF DIII playoffs.
Pasadena Poly's Princeton-bound senior Sarah Mendenhall scored the game's first goal in the 26th minute and the game's last in the 53rd. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer / February 19, 2013)
Taking full advantage of just about every good offensive chance it had, while bolstered by a phenomenal defensive effort, the Pasadena Poly girls’ soccer team shot down host Crescenta Valley on Tuesday afternoon in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.
Poly had just seven shots in the match, but Sarah Mendenhall scored on two of them, with an Evan Gancedo tally sandwiched in between, as the Panthers defense held the Falcons at bay en route to a 3-0 victory.
“[The Panthers] are spot on, when they shoot, it goes in. They just pinpoint shot the ball,” said Falcons Coach Jorden Schulz, whose team ended its season, in which it advanced to the second round for the first time since 2010, with a 15-3-2 record. “[The Panthers are] very good, they’re very fast, they’re great on the ball, they’re clean. It was a very good back-and-forth game.”
And one in which Poly prevailed, improving to 18-1-1 with its eighth-straight victory and seventh-consecutive shutout, while advancing to Thursday’s quarterfinal round against either host Lakewood St. Joseph or host Warren.
“This year, we’ve just felt it’s our year,” said Princeton-bound senior Sarah Mendenhall, who scored the game’s first goal in the 26th minute and the game’s last in the 53rd. “If it’s gonna happen, we’re ready for it.”
Poly, which won the Prep League title and is now unbeaten over its last 12 games, went back and forth, with the game virtually even in terms of possession and run of play, but of CV’s six shots, the majority were far from dangerous, while Poly’s attempts proved fatal for the Falcons.
“I wish we would’ve held possession a little more, that’s the kind of team we are,” Poly Coach Pat Gray said. “We did finish our opportunities and defensively we were lights out.”
A Noel Askins shot that went just wide of frame and a near own goal were the Panthers’ best opportunities before Mendenhall brought the ball up the right side to begin the first scoring sequence. What followed was a scrum and a Falcons goal mouth filled with bodies and deflected shots, but Mendenhall stayed upright, gathered a loose ball and drilled a shot dead-center and high for a 1-0 lead.
The Panthers’ second score came in much the same fashion, only this time it was Gancedo who found possession on the left wing and laced a shot inside the far post for a 2-0 advantage.
With the way Poly’s defense was playing, the advantage was likely insurmountable as it was, but Mendenhall put the game to rest on another splendid shot that came via the splendid efforts of Askins. Askins worked her way up and through three defenders before dribbling parallel to the net and dishing off to Mendenhall, who drilled home a low shot from the left wing inside the far post.
“I think we’ve got some kids who can finish,” Gray said. “What’s great is we have multiple kids who can finish.”
The Poly defense, keyed by Brooke Edwards, Julia Blanco, Catherine Boyer and Diana Matthiessen, was just as potent as the team’s shooting, though.
“When it does go back there, I’m so confident it’s gonna come right back,” Mendenhall said.
Crescenta Valley’s defense of Sierra Rhoads, Sarah Worden, Olivia Bird and Karina Costilla turned in an excellent performance, as well, but when the Panthers were on, they were on.
“I think our defense played really well,” said Schulz, who was pleased with her team’s performance overall and, in particular, its tenacity. “My biggest thing is don’t quit and they didn’t. I think it was very back and forth. I don’t think we were outclassed in any way.
“I don’t think luck was on any side. They put away their chances.”
And that’s just what the Panthers are looking to do on Thursday in the quarterfinals, where their playoff journey ended a season ago.
Said Gray: “We know it’s only gonna get tougher from here.”