For the second straight year, the top-seeded Unicorns would defeat the third-seeded Polar Bears, 4-0 in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division III championship match at Miguel Contreras Learning Complex. It would be LACES' third championship in four years and second in succession after last year's 2-1 win over POLA, who is now 0-3 against LACES in three years making the playoffs.
POLA (18-6-1 overall) also lost to LACES (19-2-3), 4-1 in the 2011 semifinals.
It only took the Unicorns three minutes to strike as sophomore forward Emma Katz found a crack in the defense and tapped in a shot slightly past POLA freshman goalie Daisy Garcia for a 1-0 lead that somehow stayed that way until halftime thanks to a lucky break that didn't go the Polar Bears' way.
Freshman forward Amanda Lazo was able to squeeze in a shot past the hard-charging senior goalie Natalia Garrotto with seven seconds remaining before halftime, but Lazo was ruled offsides to negate what would have been the game-tying goal... and with it, the hopes and dreams of the Polar Bears finally exacting revenge.
Two goals in the second half by sophomore midfielder Raleigh Barnes and sophomore striker Jackie Schaeffer would be the capper for LACES' latest championship victory, increasing their unbeaten streak to 19 games in a row after their last loss being to Northridge Academy, who won the City Section Division II title a day earlier, on December 15.
POLA's best chance to score came in the first half where senior midfielder Alyssa Bristol's 30-yard direct kick took a tricky bounce, that Garrotto deflected off her hands over the top of the goal, setting up POLA's lone corner kick that was promptly cleared out by the Unicorns. Senior forward Nikki Bonilla also had a breakaway chance in the second half that was snuffed out by LACES senior goalie Olivia London.
Things got testy later on as both teams were issued a yellow card five minutes apart in the closing moments.
LACES' defense was unrelenting as they blanketed the Polar Bears' top scoring threats in Bonilla, sophomore forward Melissa Rodriguez and sophomore midfielder Tiffany Torres, who had led POLA with five goals in the playoffs. Despite that, Torres was able to create scoring opportunities for herself and others with her hard-nosed effort on the turf, exhibiting great character and heart the entire match.
Despite their second-straight runner-up finish, POLA has nothing to be ashamed of, winning a third straight Crosstown League title and basically steamrolling their way into the finals with three dominant victories over USC-Mast, Bernstein of Hollywood and Fulton College Prep of Van Nuys.
Everything worked out great... until they had to face that problem of LACES one more time.