Soccer team prepares for another CIF title run

After defeating Notre Dame and Marymount in back to back matches to open league play last week, the girls’ soccer team maintains a 2-0 league record and a 7-2-1 overall record.

“We have a great team this year, and I’m excited,” midfielder Veronica Crow ’16 said. “We’ve been working on mobility with an emphasis on team play, and it’s been working well for us, and I think it’s only going to get better from here.”

The team’s spotless league record will be challenged today during its third league game, a home matchup against Chaminade.

“Beating Notre Dame last [week] was a great moment because it felt like a true team effort and like a lot of the things that we had worked hard at and practiced really paid off in that game,” Crow said. “It was great.”

One major strength of the team this year has been its new goalie, Lindsay Avant ’17, who has only let in 10 goals so far this season and has only allowed one goal in the past six games.

“Lindsay is a fantastic goalie and has definitely showed up to play this year,” defender Alex Jackson ’15 said.

After three consecutive CIF semifinal losses, the Wolverines are hoping that their new emphasis on teamwork will make this year their year to finally win CIF.

According to Jackson, teamwork has been an issue in the past, so the squad has been focusing on improving it this season.

The girls opened the season with a boom after defeating El Camino Real 6-1 Dec. 3 in their first game of the season.  Princeton-commit and midfielder Courtney O’Brien ’15 scored a hat trick during that game, and this performance has turned out to be indicative of the rest of the season. She is the team’s leading scorer and veteran leader.

“Our key players right now are definitely Courtney O’Brien, Chloe Castaneda [’15] and Courtney Corrin [’16], all mostly in our midfield,” forward Paige Howard ’17 said.  “They have been great at keeping the ball for us and distributing.  They have also been some of our biggest goal scorers. My strengths have been creating chances with Courtney O’Brien and working with her up top and also trying to find the layoffs to our midfielders.”

After another explosive 6-2 nonleague away victory Dec. 5 over Newbury Park, the girls came up short Dec. 9 against the Oaks Christian Lions, whose 1-0 victory marked the first time that Harvard-Westlake girls’ soccer has ever lost to Oaks Christian.

Following its first loss of the season, the squad won 4-2 against Mira Costa, whose team defeated Harvard-Westlake 5-0 last year.  Midfielder and Ohio State-commit Courtney Gazmarian ’16 scored twice, and O’Brien and Howard also both added one goal apiece to contribute to the team’s victory.

“Courtney Gazmarian is one of the hardest workers I know, and she has a passion for soccer that is refreshing and inspiring,” forward Nicole Araya ’16 said.

The Wolverines played in the Excalibur Tournament held by Foothill High School Dec. 26-29 and defeated Bullard 2-0 and handily beat Westview in the first two games.  Araya, Castaneda, Corrin and Howard all contributed goals in the team’s victory over Westview.  The team tied Buchanan 0-0 in its third game before losing 4-3 in penalty kicks to fall out of the tournament during the quarterfinals.  In their worst defeat of the season, the Wolverines also lost 3-0 to Foothill in a consolation game.

After the Excalibur Tournament, league play began and the Wolverines won their first two league games against Notre Dame and Marymount 3-1 and 3-0, respectively.

The Wolverines have a perfect league play record so far, but they still have six league games left to play, including rematches against Notre Dame and Marymount.  The stage is set for the Wolverines to make another run at CIF, and today’s game against Chaminade will set the tone for the rest of the season.

The girls will next square off Friday in a nonleague match against Alemany, and then they will have five league matches in a row against Notre Dame, Marymount, Chaminade and twice against Flintridge Sacred Heart.  The final game before playoffs will be a nonleague Feb. 14 away game against Valencia.

“My favorite moment [this season] has probably just been the way our team has bonded,” Howard said. “We’re really connected, and I think that that’s going to help us when get into tough, upcoming games.”

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