Pearson Scores as South Pas Ties League Opener

First published in the Jan. 14 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

South Pasadena High School’s varsity girls’ soccer team traveled to La Canada and clashed in a competitive Rio Hondo League matchup that ended in a 1-1 tie last Friday.
South Pasadena defender Leah Pearson opened the scoring in the 32nd minute on a 6-yard floater past La Cañada goalie Montana La Barge. Tigers midfielder Sabrina Bluml earned the assist on a beautiful cross.
“I usually play center back, so it was really surprising; I haven’t scored in a long time, so it was nice,” Pearson said. “I just kind of kicked it and hoped it went in, and it did.”
The Spartans were held in check for the entire match. It was only thanks to an own-goal on South Pasadena (1-3-2 overall record, 0-1-1 in league) in the 73rd that saved La Cañada (5-1-2 overall, 0-0-1 in league) from opening league action with a loss.
“It comes with the pressure up top from our girls — that’s how you create an own goal,” LCHS head coach Kevin Neumeier said. “South Pas was under pressure and we forced them to get the turnover like that. I was proud of them for making that happen.”
The Spartans had their best offensive opportunity in the 51st on midfielder Shania Clorefine’s penalty shot, but Tigers goalie Amaris Franco deflected it.
“Amaris is a phenomenal keeper,” SPHS head coach Danielle Jones said. “I really expected that [penalty shot] to go out because I have that much confidence in her. She has such experience and a wealth of knowledge of how to play that position, so we definitely expected her to save that.”
It was a solid defensive game that saw limited opportunities by both teams as the ball remained in midfield for most of the match, except when La Cañada made a push to break the tie in the final minutes of regulation. Spartan fullbacks Samantha Neumeier (75th minute) and Atziri Fernandez (78th) took shots at the goal, but South Pasadena goalie Ava Hartstein blocked them.
Despite both teams’ limited attacking opportunities in the first half, the Tigers opened the second half strong and put pressure on La Cañada’s defense. South Pasadena fullback Brynn Dubester (47th) and Endo (48th) each had an opportunity to score but La Barge blocked the former while the latter missed above the post.
In the 65th and the 66th minutes, Tigers fullback Iris Pollard took two shots but missed right on both attempts.
“It’s not what you want,” Kevin Neumeier said about the draw. “I give them their winter break off so that’s two and a half weeks of not even playing, not even being together, so it’s kind of what I expected against a tough opponent like South Pas.”
La Cañada is scheduled to play at Temple City on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 3:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, South Pasadena is scheduled to host Pasadena Blair on Friday, Jan. 14, at 3:30 p.m.