In this intersectional battle with host St. Anthony of Long Beach, the Polar Bears finally found themselves in a tight battle, but they remain on a roll with a determined defensive effort.
All the Polar Bears truly needed was a goal in the 29th minute by sophomore midfielder Isabela Van Antwerp and a clutch save nine minutes later from freshman goalie Daisy Garcia for them to survive with their closest victory of the season, 1-0 over the Saints at Clark Field in Long Beach. Strong defensive efforts by sophomores Samantha Walker and Tiffany Torres, along with seniors Stephanie Torres and Marisa Reyes also was crucial.
With this narrow victory, POLA (10-5-1 overall) has now won four straight heading into their Crosstown League home showdown with rival Harbor Teacher Prep of Wilmington on Wednesday at San Pedro Field Of Dreams.
It was almost a little bit of luck for the Polar Bears when the opportunity arose... Van Antwerp and senior forward Nikki Bonilla both came charging hard on a dual breakaway, and caught St. Anthony senior goalie Brianna Ritzuis out of position in protecting the net. It was Van Antwerp who would seize the moment and slightly tap in a shot through the uncontested net for the game's only goal.
Then in the 38th minute, the Saints (8-6-2) had their best chance to score when senior striker Adriana Santillan blasted a shot from about five yards away, but Garcia made a spectacular diving stop towards the right corner of the goal.
Overall, POLA outshot St. Anthony with 11 shots on goal to the Saints' three. Garcia had two saves, while junior goalie Nicole Sierra only needed to make one save in the second half.
There were times in the second half where POLA had a chance to break the game open, but Ritzuis stopped two point-blank range shots from Tiffany Torres and sophomore forward Ariella Martinez. Bonilla also was denied on three shots in the first half.
Yet, the Polar Bears held their ground defensively and remain hot in pursuit of their first CIF-Los Angeles City Section Small Schools Division title.