"They played a great game," said Oderkirk of the Panthers, who will host the Rebels on Feb. 9. "They got a little lucky, we didn't finish, that's the game. Not to mention, records don't mean squat, especially when you play Poly, they get pumped for this."
The game was capsulized in the first 40 minutes.
It saw the Rebels set up shop around the Pasadena Poly net, but shots were seldom.
"We are knocking on the door, it's going to open up," shouted Rebel assistant Dudley Hitchcock.
It stayed shut, however.
The best opportunity came when Rebel Umar Hussain fired on an empty Panther net, only to have the shot stopped by a fallen Rebel teammate.
Moments later, Panther Nick Cotton blasted a free kick that deflected off a Rebel and past Flintridge Prep goalie Mike Martel for a 1-0 Pasadena Poly advantage in the 36th minute.
"If we finish our opportunities in the first half, it's another game," Oderkirk said.
The only time the Rebels did finish came in the 44th minute.
With the Panther goalie challenging a 50-50 ball with Rebel Gary Au and a defender in the air, the ball found the foot of Rebel J.T. Treadwell. Treadwell then found the back of the net.
So began a second half of action with a pace once again dictated by Flintridge Prep. Suddenly, however, the Panthers were back on top.
It came after two consecutive Rebel cornerkicks were cleared, the latter leading to a Panther run downfield.
It concluded with a Josh McCurry goal. Shortly thereafter, McCurry was given his second yellow card and ejected from the game. It was one of a handful of cards handed out during a physical game that held its tense feel throughout.
A third goal came on a fluke of a free kick that bounced off Martel and was rebounded in for the 3-1 final.
"We play soccer and they play kickball," said Oderkirk, who also got strong play from Isaac Jabola-Carolus and Alex Clayton. "In the end [kickball] worked."
Nevertheless, Oderkirk and Co. aren't ready to throw in the towel after just one league game. The goal for a repeat league title remains at hand.
"We just gotta beat them at their place," Oderkirk said, "and maybe we'll be co-champs again."
* GRANT GORDON covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3225 or by e-mail at email@example.com.