Top-seeded Port Of Los Angeles High girls soccer would once again come to the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division IV championship game against their most familiar adversary in second-seeded Los Angeles CES for the third time in four years, but this time, they went overtime. Unfortunately for the Polar Bears, they ended with the all-too familiar result of coming up second best to the Unicorns.
For the fifth straight year, POLA lost to LACES, this time by a 2-1 decision in the CIF-LACS Division IV final at Belmont High of Los Angeles. For the Unicorns (13-4-4 overall), it's their fourth title in six years, third in the last four years of which, all coming at POLA's expense, snapping the 21-match undefeated streak of the Polar Bears (22-3-3), who tied LACES, 1-1 in the Valley Invitational Tournament back on January 10.
In the 96th minute, LACES senior midfielder Emma Katz put in the game-winning goal over the outstretched arms of POLA junior goalie Emily Haugen, and with only six seconds left, POLA junior midfielder Maddi Pepper's corner kick was read perfectly and snatched out of the sky by LACES junior goalie Jamie Kolbrenner.
The Polar Bears actually struck first in this game, when Pepper's free kick found its way towards freshman forward Briana Mancilla, who beat Kolbrenner to the ball and tapped it in the net for a 1-0 POLA lead in the 16th minute. The advantage would be short lived, as LACES senior midfielder Annika Ortiz found senior forward Raleigh Barnes for the equalizer and the game remained deadlocked at 1-1 for the next 71 minutes of action.
POLA was out-shot 10-5 in shots on goal, as the Unicorns were a tad faster to the ball on 50-50 chances and had much sharper passes leading to much more quality looks at the net.
Even in defeat, the Polar Bears, who set a school record for wins in a season, remained tough and ferocious to the bitter end.