LYNWOOD — Last season’s postseason run for Flintridge Prep’s boys’ soccer team ended before it really got going with a shutout loss on the road to Firebaugh High.
But this year’s squad of Rebels found itself with a shot at redemption, as Flintridge Prep was slated to face the host Falcons once again in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs.
“It’s a big improvement off of last year when they beat us 6-0,” Rebels senior midfielder Daniel Enzminger said. “For us to give the performance that we did, we played better from the start of the game. They got a goal on us early, but, I mean, we hung with them a lot better this year.”
Flintridge Prep (11-6-3) fell behind immediately, surrendering a goal to the Falcons just 77 seconds in on the first shot of the contest. Firebaugh junior Edgar Hernandez, who put in both of the game’s goals, found space among three Rebels defenders in the center of the field near the top of the box and blasted home a hard driving shot.
The Rebels almost had the quick equalizer and did have their best chance of the contest to score in the game’s sixth minute. Rebels senior Cole Rademacher took the ball deep down the wing before sending a pass across the goal mouth to Ari Baranian just a few feet from the goal line. He got a touch on the ball, putting his shot on frame, but Falcons goalkeeper Kevin Ramero lunged in front of it, smothering the ball between his legs and bringing it to the ground.
“We had a point-blank chance that makes this an entirely different game,” Rebels Coach AJ Yates said of Baranian’s opportunity. “I think he saved it with his legs. I have no idea how that happened.”
In the final minutes before halftime, Flintridge Prep once again narrowly missed tying the game with Firebaugh (7-8-2) when a header by senior Brian Heintz was disallowed due to a call of offsides.
As it did in the first half, Firebaugh, the Harbor League’s No. 2 seed, controlled the time of possession and was quicker to the ball as the Rebels struggled to generate offense.
“It’s a tough game. We did some things well, we did some other things poorly,” Yates said. “We haven’t been able to generate offense for a couple weeks. It was hard to expect that this was the game we were going to start generating offense. [Firebaugh] is a very skilled team. ... They possessed the ball really well and we were forced into a chasing game.”
The Falcons got an insurance goal, this time scoring on their first shot of the second half, in the 47th minute. Hernandez followed up a short corner kick that Flintridge Prep was unable to clear with another powerful shot that found the back of the net.
After seeing their season ended two years in a row by Firebaugh, the Rebels are guaranteed not to have to wait until the postseason again to get another shot at the Falcons. Firebaugh, currently in the Harbor League, is set to join Flintridge Prep next year as a new member, and the only public school, in the Prep League as Webb withdraws.
However, with 14 seniors on the Flintridge Prep squad, it will be a whole new set of Rebels who will welcome the Falcons into Prep League play.
“It was a lot of fun,” Enzminger said. “I don’t usually say that about losses, but I guess you have to appreciate the last game of your high school career.”