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Rebels' run falls short

Soccer: Flintridge Prep girls suffer 3-1 quarterfinal road loss to top-seeded Ayala.

February 25, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

CHINO HILLS — Even with a complete roster, the Flintridge Prep girls' soccer team would have had its work cut out trying to outplay No. 1-seed Ayala for 80 minutes, but the fact that the full-strength Rebels came 60 seconds away from going into halftime with a lead showed they at least had a chance.

Without the services of star forward Brook Elby for the final 44 minutes of Thursday's match at Ayala, that chance essentially disappeared. The Bulldogs rallied for three straight goals within a 19-minute span following Elby's hip injury and subsequent departure via ambulance near the end of the first half and ended the Rebels' landmark season with a 3-1 loss in the quarterfinal round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.

Even before it eviscerated Prep's already overmatched offensive attack and stretched the Rebels' defense to the breaking point, the loss of Elby had a significant psychological effect on the team.

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"It happened to me as a freshman, so watching someone else getting rushed away in an ambulance, it was just really scary to see," said Alina Okamoto, a Rebels' co-captain along with Elby. "She's a huge, essential, if not the main, component of our team sticking together, so it was really sad to see her leave.

"We still tried to push through it. We tried to play it for her."

Try as they might, the 1-0 lead the Rebels had taken when Elby opened scoring in the 33rd minute was gone three minutes after play resumed following the injury delay when Ayala's Makenzy Doniak converted on an equalizer with one minute left in injury time.

Playing with five defenders after Elby went out, Prep couldn't stop Ayala's Alex Rovira from crossing a ball to Doniak, where Prep goalie Casey Cousineau (eight saves) tried to beat Doniak to the ball on its first bounce in the goal box. Doniak got to the ball first and booted one home on an empty net.

"We were up, 1-0, they were panicking. …But when Brooke went down, I think the team, psychologically, went down too," Prep Coach Esteban Chavez said. "Thirty seconds to go and all we had to do was hold the ball [to end] the first half and you never know, but that really killed the team.

"Not because she's the only one on the team, but I think because it's quarterfinals and she went down, I think the team for a little bit there kind of lost their confidence."

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