Hart girl’s soccer heads to tournament final in dominant win

Senior forward Alyssa Irwin stretches out to extend a play in the Hart Varsity Showcase. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Shrout
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Hart girl’s soccer overwhelmed Temple City 9-1 in a one-sided affair in the semifinal round of the Hart Varsity Showcase at Hart High School Friday afternoon.

“I thought they were really ready and took the game to them,” said Hart head coach Guilherme Mitrovitch. “Our ball movement was good and our movement off the ball was very dynamic. The game plan worked as planned, but it was more of the girls being a little bit more focused.”

Hart (10-1-2 overall) applied pressure on Temple City’s defense from the sound of the first whistle. Minutes into the game, sophomore forward Maggie Yoshioka crossed the ball from the Hart sideline to senior forward Alyssa Irwin. She planted her foot and drove the ball into the back of the net to give Hart the 1-0 lead.

“Their defense was stepping up high, so a lot of the through balls were there,” said Irwin. “Out wide was really there, so Maggie Yoshioka was making a lot of really good crosses to me. I think that was one of the main things we capitalized on in this game.”

The Indians wasted no time scoring again. Shortly after Irwin’s goal, the team kept applying pressure. A shot ricocheted off of Temple City’s senior goalkeeper Elliana Zellien’s fingertips towards the corner. Once again, Yoshioka got behind the ball and fired it to Irwin for her second goal.

“It feels really good to be able to contribute,” said Yoshioka. “It makes me excited for the season coming up.”

As the match approached the halfway point of the first half, Irwin managed to squeak another goal by Zellien unassisted to complete the hat trick.

“It felt pretty nice,” said Irwin. “It was good to capitalize and finish my shots. Sometimes you can have all these opportunities and not finish, so it felt really nice to finish.”

Hart continued to keep its foot on the gas firing shot after shot on Temple City’s goal. Freshman Rams defender Isabella Villalobos got directly in front of a zooming Hart shot. It bounced off her leg and over the backline to ward off the Indians’ attack.

More: Late second-half goal pushes Canyon past Harvard-Westlake; Hart dominates

However, the Indians would not be held back for long. The ensuing corner kick resulted in a Hart goal by sophomore Rubi Reyes to put the Indians up 4-0.

Temple City (12-4-1) finally showed some life on offense as it formulated a solid attack against Hart as the first half was beginning to come to a close. The Rams closed in on Hart junior goalkeeper Megan Kelly. 

Temple City freshman midfielder Arika Terrell fired a shot to Kelly’s right side. In an effort to preserve Hart’s shutout streak throughout the tournament, Kelly dove to save the goal. The ball rolled off of her fingertips and crept behind the goal line to cut the Hart lead to 4-1.

Shortly after conceding their only goal of the match, the Indians found themselves at the other end of the pitch. Senior midfielder Stefani Woll delivered a corner kick which was collected by senior midfielder Julia Melchiore.

Melchiore fought over the ball with Temple City’s Zellien at the goal line until she was able to push the ball fully into the goal. The Indians went into the half, up 5-1.

Hart managed to go up big in the first 40 minutes of play largely because of a defense that was unwilling to budge. For a majority of the first half, the ball stayed on Temple City’s side of the field. When it did cross midfield towards Hart’s defense, it did not stay for long.

“The mids did a great job holding them there and the forwards pressuring their defenders, not giving them a chance to play out,” said senior defender Jessica Deegan. “So, they didn’t really get a chance to pressure us very much.”

The Indians were able to keep the same pace on offense as they piled on four more goals in the second half. However, the defense relaxed a little more and allowed the Rams to enter Indian territory, which brought excitement to senior goalkeeper Kiara Ramires, who subbed in for Kelly just before the half.

“I think anytime you’re ahead you kind of relax,” said Deegan. “We were trying to possess more instead of just going for the goal. We were trying to practice the way we want to play, just possessing. That gives more chance for them to attack us.”

Shortly after a goal by senior forward Mia Noble assisted by Irwin, Temple City began to pressure the Indian defense. The Rams fired a laser beam at the high end of the net and Ramires reached upwards at full extension to knock the ball over the goal.

That would be Temple City’s last attempt on goal for the remainder of the match. The Hart defense decided it was time to finish the fight and try to hold possession of the ball. 

Deegan was all over the Temple City offense as the match approached the final few minutes. Any time the ball crossed midfield into Hart territory, she was there to cut between the forward and the ball.

Jessica Deegan slides in to take possession over for Hart in the Hart Varsity Showcase. Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Shrout

“They tried to play a lot of long-balls,” said Deegan. “Their defenders were looking to find their forwards a lot. We were able to recognize that in the back and stop that play.”

Her persistence on the ball set up Noble to return the favor as she assisted Irwin on her fourth goal, as well as scored a second goal for herself.

Once the Indians went up 8-1 on the Rams, Mitrovitch pulled his starters and began to sub in younger players, including a few junior varsity members who were standing in for missing players. 

Hart was able to finish strong with a late assist from Woll to freshman Natalie Spivey. Spivey is one of the girls that filled in from JV Friday afternoon. The final goal of the match gave the Indians a 9-1 win and their most dominant win of the tournament.

“We’re very excited with the final tomorrow,” said Mitrovitch. “We’re going to be motivated. I know the girls really want it. We’re going to take it very seriously and go full force out there and try to perform and try to get better.”

The Indians will face off against Simi Valley in the winner take all final match of the Hart Varsity Showcase 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Hart High School.

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