By Fred J. Robledo Staff Writer
CORONA – Pasadena Poly played well enough and had its chances to raise the school’s eighth championship plaque and first girls soccer trophy since 2003.
But its return to glory has to wait.
This is still Bishop Amat’s time and moment. The Lancers punctuated their third straight CIF-Southern Section finals appearance with its second championship, scoring twice over the final 11 minutes to pull out a 4-2 victory over Pasadena Poly in the Division 3 girls soccer championship game at Corona High on Saturday night.
Tom Kiss captured all the excitement with highlights, postgame celebration and interviews
Amat counts down the seconds to its second title in three years
Amat goalkeeper Ruby Nichols’ gave-saving goal in the 68th minute with the scored tied, 2-2
Katy Zamora’s game-tying goal in the second half, making it 1-1
Bishop Amat overcame a 1-0 halftime deficit to win its second championship since 2011. Tied 2-2, Amat went ahead in the 69th minute on Nayeli Requejo’s hustle goal and Yazmin Montoya put it out of reach a minute later, scoring in the 70th minute to ice it.
Lancers coach Ruben Gonzalez fought back tears because it wasn’t his most talented team, but might have been his hungriest. The Lancers improved to 19-4-5 and will continue on in the Southern California Regional state playoffs next week.
“It’s very emotional because we were here last year and weren’t able to get it done,” Gonzalez said. “You always think the first one is special, but all of them are. This group
of young ladies, they believed in the coaching staff and what we preached and they got the job done.” (to continue click thread)
Poly led 1-0 at half after a perfectly executed set piece in the 27th minute. Junior midfielder Evan Gancedo sent a free kick across the box for Simone Abegunrin, who raced toward the middle and headed it home for the lone goal of the first half.
“You can tell from the way we played we started off a litle flat,” Montoya said. “But we had a good halftime talk and came out with our heart and passion. We wanted this game and we took it.”
It wasn’t that easy, however.
Montoya’s free kick in the 47th minute bounced around in front of the goal and found the feet of Kathleen Zamora, who directed it home to tie the score, 1-1.
Amat went in front off Natalie Tillman’s long-throw in to the penalty area, which was accidently back-headed for an own goal by Poly’s Katie Wardlaw to give Amat a 2-1 lead.
After Poly’s Noel Askins ran a long bouncing pass down and headed it past Amat’s on-
rushing goalkeeper Ruby Nichols to tie the score in the 51st minute, 2-2, Nichols made up for it with an incredible tip-save over the bar to keep the Panthers from going ahead in the 68th minute.
“That was huge,” Gonzalez said. “Then we were able to get the third and fourth goal right after. It was the play of the game.”
Poly (20-2-1) had other chances too, particularly from Askins and Gancedo, but couldn’t go ahead after tying the game 2-2.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our girls, I thought they battled the entire game,” Poly coach Pat Gray said. “But all the credit goes to Bishop Amat, they pressured the heck out of us all day long. They didn’t allow us to do much of anything, give them a ton of credit, they worked so hard and negated some of the things we wanted to do.”
Missing for Poly was Princeton-bound attacker Sarah Mendenhall, who tore her ACL in the Panthers’ 3-1 semifinal win over Oaks Christian.
“It hurts (not having her), but I’m not going to make any excuses at all, that’s not what we’re about,” Gray said. “You can’t replace Sarah Mendehnal, the attention she takes away from the team on the field, she’s a hustler, and pretty darn good goal scorer. No excuses, but it would have been nice to have her tonight.”