Maranatha girls looking to have even bigger season than 2006-07
By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer
There was a sense of emptiness when Maranatha High School’s girls soccer team walked off the field after a 2-1 loss on the road against Notre Dame Academy in the CIF-Southern Section Division V playoffs last season.
But with seven returning players, the future appears bright for the Minutemen heading into the 2007-08 season.
In a season in which the area’s top spot could be up for grabs, Maranatha is the area’s top team.
With the likes of Flintridge Sacred Heart and Monrovia breathing down Maranatha’s neck, keeping the top spot will be a daunting task.
Playing without Te’Anna Robinson also could impact how well Maranatha fares after posting a 22-2-3 record a year ago.
After leading the Minutemen with 34 goals last season, Robinson decided not to play this time around so she could concentrate on club volleyball and her studies.
But with a team effort, Maranatha coach Jolie Robison feels her squad is capable of big things.
Senior defender Sarah Wilson, center midfielder Jessica Fry and junior defender Erin Johnson return to bring leadership to the Minutemen to complement a squad of young newcomers.
“The new players are going to contribute highly to the success of the team,” Robison said. “This team is very deep so everybody on the bench will contribute.”
Maranatha opened the season with a 2-2 tie against Pasadena Poly before beating Westridge 8-0.
Without Robinson as the “go-to” person, the Minutemen must band together to pick up the scoring slack.
“I think it’s good for our team to not just rely on one player,” Robison said. “They’re going to have to take responsibility and contribute.”
Robison is confident in her team’s outlook.
“With a lot of hard work, this team can be really successful,” Robison said. “It’s not going to be easy, but this team can compete with the top teams in Division I, and possibly win a Division V championship.”
No. 2 FLINTRIDGE SACRED HEART
The Tologs could be a mainstay in the area rankings this season, thanks to the return of many key players.
Leading the list is forward Carly Crowder, the Mission League Offensive Player of the Year and an All-CIF Division I selection.
Crowder, a two-time All-Mission League selection who committed to play soccer next season at UC Irvine, is currently injured and not expected back in the lineup until after Christmas.
Also returning to the Tologs lineup is Carter Vettese, a two-time All-Mission League pick. Vettese has committed to play at Brown University next season.
Another player expected to make a huge impact for FSHA is senior midfielder Mimi Roukoz, who is committed to play at the University of San Diego.
Other returning all-league players are last year’s leading scorer, forward Lisa Shaw, midfielder Heather Riley and defender Pip Harragin.
“We have a very versatile, mature team,” FSHA coach Frank Pace said. “At least 10 of our players will continue playing soccer in college.
“We just need time to get them healthy from the rigors of their club seasons and be patient with whatever results come between now and then.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart opened the season with 1-1 ties against Flintridge Prep and Moorpark.
“We opened up the season with four key starters out and probably won’t be full strength until Christmas,” Pace said. “Defensively, we’re terrific. When we get our seniors back, we’ll be fine on offense.
“If we are full speed by the time league season opens in January, this team could be special. Patience will be the key.”
No. 3 MONROVIA
The Wildcats (11-6-4) won the Rio Hondo League championship a season ago before falling to Palm Desert in the CIF-SS playoffs.
Monrovia returns 11 players and should sport a deep and talented team this season.
The Wildcats have many younger players but have the experience necessary to compete for another RHL crown.
“We lost a lot of defense from last year, but we have plenty of depth,” Monrovia coach Jamie Payne said. “When they start stringing passes together, they’re fun to watch.”
Junior stopper Shannon Brooks and junior midfielder Lisa Kelley return to provide stability to the Wildcats offense; senior Samantha Holmes returns to the lineup after sitting out last season with a tear to her ACL in the semifinals two years ago.
“She brings a very creative look to the game,” Payne said. “She has good foot speed, wins balls and does everything you want out of a midfielder.”
Junior Grace Kennedy and Tyler Shirk are expected to make solid impacts as well.
Monrovia is 3-0 after shutout victories over Keppel (3-0), Rosemead (7-0) and Firebaugh (9-0).
No. 4 LA CANADA
The Spartans hope to contend for the Rio Hondo League title, after finishing 15-5 last season.
Leading the list of returning players for La Canada is forward Nancy Avesyan, the Rio Hondo League’s Offensive MVP a year ago and senior goalkeeper Colleen Boyd.
Avesyan earned a scholarship at Cal State Northridge; Boyd will attend Oregon State.
“Nancy is a midfielder, but we moved her to forward because she could score,” La Canada coach Louie Bilowitz said.
Bilowitz is pleased to have Boyd back as well.
“Colleen, I think, was the best goalkeeper in the area,” Bilowitz said.
Seniors Jessica Pih and Janelle Rotenberg, junior Milly Beebee and sophomore Rachel Ragusa should provide quality contributions for the Spartans.
No. 5 LA SALLE
The Lancers lost nine seniors from last season’s Division IV championship team.
They also lost potentially returning players Katie Tripoli and Andrea Iglesias, both deciding not to play soccer this season.
Senior midfielder Alexa Weigand and Lindsey Jahnke will be looked upon to provide leadership to a young squad.
“It’s a totally new team,” La Salle coach Sal Lopez said.
Justine and Whitney Tashior, Analuisa Castro and goalkeeper Cindy Vega will be called upon to take over the leadership roles for the Lancers.
The goalkeeper position could be a vital one for La Salle this season.
“If there’s a weakness on this team, it’s at goalkeeper because I don’t have a true keeper,” Lopez said. “We’re going to be playing some field players at that position.”
Lopez knows his team needs valuable experience and feels the Lancers can be a factor later in the season.
“We should be peaking by playoff time,” Lopez said.