Almost an upset: Firehawk girls defeated in first round of CIF soccer playoff

Lose 2-1 to heavily favored Garey Vikings in overtime in Pomona


BP Photo by Vivienne Schlussel

SPRINT: Sophomore Atara Cohen charged for the soccer ball as she tried to defend Garey High School from scoring a goal. The Firehawks fell short of the win, losing 2-1 in an overtime nail biter.

By Zane Mendelson, Staff Writer

In what looked like it might be an upset victory, the Firehawks forced the heavily favored Garey Vikings into overtime Feb. 10 but were not able to hold on, losing 2-1in this year’s first round of postseason play.

Enrollment nears the 1,700 mark for Garey High School, while Shalhevet has roughly 250 students. There were only 10 fans in attendance for Shalhevet while Garey had over 100.

Not only that, but in regular-season play the Vikings had a 17-4-2 record, while the Firehawks were just 4-7. 

Yet Shalhevet led for most of the game, with sophomore striker Gabby Judaken scoring a goal in the 23rd minute. After that the Firehawks led 1-0 for almost the entire game, trying to hold on and cause the upset. 

In the 73rd minute of the game, the Vikings scored, tying it 1-1 with just seven minutes to go in regulation time. The game went into overtime, and in the 8th minute the Vikings scored, winning 2-1 and ending the Firehawks’ season. 

“It’s one of the greatest accomplishments in school history,” said Head Coach Armando Guttierez. “This was only the second time we have made it to the playoffs, and we have only seen growth.” 

Shalhevet had to travel in traffic almost three hours to Pomona on a drive that usually takes an hour-and-a-half. But winning the game wasn’t the only thing on the team’s mind – they were just happy to be there.

We must work at mental toughness as a group, but we will get better. I always say, you play against 14 people –11 players and three referees.

— Assistant Coach Oscar Lawrence

The Vikings tied the Firehawks 1-1, with seven minutes to go in regulation. At that point, what first looked like the game-winning goal instead resulted in the Firehawks losing their captain. 

On a race to the ball, team captain Noa Talasazan collided with the Vikings’ goalie, Melanie Gomez. Even though Noa had kicked the ball into the net before the collision, she received a yellow card for running into the goalie.

Moments later, the referee drew a red card from his pocket, for words shared between the two players after the collision. That was it – the Firehawks’ captain was out of the game, and Shalhevet was down a player.  Melanie Gomez remained in the game.  The score was still tied.  

Head Coach Armando Guttierez said it was unfortunate to see Noa go. 

“It was frustrating because she’s a key player,” Coach Guttierez said.

In the eighth minute of overtime, the Vikings scored on a goal that floated just over the head of sophomore goalie Adi Liebenthal, ending the Firehawks’ season. 


Assistant Coach Oscar Lawrence said that although the call that got Noa ejected was controversial, the team needs to be prepared for those situations.

“We must work at mental toughness as a group, but we will get better,” Coach Lawrence said. 

“I always say, you play against 14 people-11 players and three referees.” 

Coming into the game as underdogs the Firehawks didn’t know what to expect. Sophomore and defender Chana Light said they knew the team was very good based on their record. 

“I knew that we were strong, and we would put up a good fight,”  Chana said. “I just put my head in the game, and tried my hardest.”

Defender and senior Carin Arbib said this game was by far their best game they have played all year. She said how everything was just clicking on the field. 

“We played so much better than usual,” Carin said. “We played as a team, and we were unified.”

We played so much better than usual. We played as a team, and we were unified.

— Carin Arbib, defender, 12th grade

Coach Guttierez and Coach Lawrence said they are looking to the future with this team. They said the fact that it’s losing only three seniors will enable the group to progress really well in the years to come.

“We know that we will be better,” said Coach Guttierez. “We are building up a program where you can see the outcome of hard work. We will only get better –  this was a great season for this program and we are so proud of each and everyone of our players and what we as a team have accomplished.” 

Although this is the end of the soccer team’s CIF season, it will not be their last game. Shalhevet will take on the YULA Panthers March 5 in a scrimmage, when they hope to end the season on a high note.