Locals hope to build upon success
Soccer: Pasadena-area squads look to go beyond last year's success.
San Marino's Alex Schuster, left, and South Pasadena's Kelly Brady, right, will lead their teams to battle for control of the Rio Hondo League as the girls' soccer season gets underway. (File Photo) (File Photo / December 1, 2012)
At South Pasadena High, it could be argued the defending Rio Hondo League champion Tigers enjoyed their strongest season since 2003 in winning a league title, finishing with a 17-3-6 record and advancing to the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs.
Last year’s squad included five seniors, highlighted by defender Jessica Suh and All-Area first-teamer Taylor Colliau (14 goals and six assists).
“I know we graduated a few player and of course Taylor, but I think this year’s team can also be special,” said Tigers Coach Randy Lilavois, the reigning All-Area Coach of the Year. “Pretty much we have 12 to 15 players coming back and some players ready to lead.”
Lilavois expects Colliau’s on-field leadership to be replaced by two players in returning goalie Angelique Ulmer (15 shutouts) and senior Jessica Moog, the Rio Hondo League co-Most Valuable Player, who totaled 10 goals and 10 assists last season.
Junior forward Kelly Brady (team-leading 18 goals last season) and junior sweeper Samantha Figueroa, two league first-team picks, along with sophomore Jackie Mejia and Emily Figueroa are all players who will be counted on to lead South Pasadena’s success this season.
“Right now, we’re missing about four players who are on club teams, so we’ll take our lumps early,” Lilavois said. “But by the time we get into league play, we should be pretty strong and should compete.”
One squad hoping to dethrone South Pasadena is San Marino, which welcomes back 11 players from last year’s squad that finished 11-6-4, second in the Rio Hondo League, and advanced to the second round of the Division VI playoffs.
Junior forward Hayley Thompson (12 goals and seven assists), senior midfielder Quinta Addis and junior defender Alana Hillman, all Rio Hondo League first-team picks, are three of the Titans’ key returners along with senior forward Hope Welder (11 goals and five assists) and senior midfielder Alex Schuster (13 assists).
San Marino may have difficulty, though, replacing senior fullback Rebecca Morris, an All-Area second-team pick and the league’s most valuable defensive player.
When the CIF Southern Section preseason polls were released earlier in November, not many local teams received recognition.
One squad that did, however, was Marshall Fundamental, which was granted the top spot in Division VII a year after finishing 12-6-2, runner-up in the Delphic League, and reached the quarterfinals of the divisional playoffs.
“Coming off last year, the girls worked really hard for this ranking,” Eagles Coach Esteban Villanueva said. “To be ranked No. 1 is fun and the girls are excited.”
If there’s an area of concern for the Eagles, it’s that they start the season without all-league league first-team striker Isabel Robles (15 goals), who is out two to four weeks with an MCL tear.
In her stead, the Eagles will rely on junior midfielder Quetzali Del Villar (eight goals), Jordan Snowden and freshman Erika Perez, while defenders Jackie Jaquez and Arianna Dowell will provide necessary defense for goalie Ariel Martinez.
Like Marshall, Pasadena Poly was ranked going into the season as the Panthers are No. 10 in Division III.
“Expectations are pretty high for a very successful season,” Panthers ninth-year Coach Patrick Gray said. “We have some nice young players and solid returners. Right now, the biggest thing for us is getting on the field and having chemistry.”
Poly concluded an 18-4 season last year in which the Panthers finished second in the Prep League and reached the second round of the playoffs.
Of all the local squads, perhaps Poly is best armed to trump its success last season as the Panthers return 10 starters and only graduated one player.