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Girls' Soccer: Shootout not kind to Sage

Breakthrough season for Lightning ends in CIF quarterfinals as undefeated La Cañada edges match in penalty kicks.

March 03, 2014|By Matt Szabo
  • Sage Hill's Alexandra Mowery, 25, battles with La Caada's Natalie Ragusa in the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 5 playoffs at Sage Hill on Monday.
Sage Hill's Alexandra Mowery, 25, battles with… (Don Leach, Daily…)

The La Cañada High girls' soccer team came into Monday's CIF Southern Section Division 5 quarterfinal playoff match with 20 wins and one tie this season.

All it takes in CIF, though, is one loss to be sent home.

Unseeded Sage Hill pushed No. 3 La Cañada for 100 minutes of play on the pitch, and 10 penalty kicks. But all it took was one well-placed shot by Spartans sophomore Emma Tapp to end the game, as well as the Lightning's season.

Tapp scored the game-winner on the 10th penalty kick as La Cañada won the shootout, 7-6, after the teams played to a 1-1 tie through regulation and two overtime periods.

La Cañada will play at Hemet in a Division 5 semifinal on Tuesday. It's another long road trip for the Spartans, but Coach Louie Bilowitz can deal with that.

He is just happy his team survived at Sage Hill, in a game that was rescheduled due to flooding on the Sage Hill field during Friday's rainstorm. Three days later, the Lightning, making its first CIF quarterfinal appearance since 2006, certainly seemed dangerous.

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"Their team was very, very athletic, more athletic and faster than any team we've played," Bilowitz said. "We weren't used to that. And they never quit. I thought we had pretty much control of the game, but their defense was so fast and good-sized that we couldn't get enough shots."

The anchor of that defense was junior goalkeeper Kekai Whitford. She made 16 saves, including three in the shootout, which was back and forth. Senior captain Allie Mowrey scored in the first round, but Brianna Albarian answered for La Cañada.

Neither team scored in the second round, with Whitford recording a block. Sage's third-round shot was blocked by Spartans goalie Kaitlyn Corral before La Cañada's Rosie Quezada scored to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. Sage missed again, but Whitford recorded another save to keep her team within one.

After Sage's Rachael Jaffe scored in the fifth round, La Cañada had a chance to win it with its fifth-round attempt, but Whitford dived to her right to make a huge save.

"I wasn't keeping track," Whitford said. "I didn't know if we were up, I didn't know if we were down. I was just focused on that next ball, and doing my part."

From there, the teams kept pace in the next four rounds. Whitford, Tiffany Taylor, Ida Ramezani and Meg Crade scored for Sage Hill, while Katherine Sheehy, Megan Reilly, Cassy Quiring and Ari Aghadjanians answered every time for La Cañada.

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