By Sue Pascoe
The Palisades High School girls soccer continued Western League play on Jan. 11 by defeating LACES, 5- 1, with goals by freshman Margot Reemtsen, sophomore Sara Krakovsky, juniors Jite Agege and India Holland, and senior Zoe Capanna.
Reemtsen and Holland are defenders, but head coach Christian Chambers shuffled the lineup because Western League teams usually don’t present problems for the Dolphins, most of whom play club and are highly experienced.
Many high school soccer teams played in tournaments over the holiday break, but Chambers, who served as a head coach in the Dorset English Football Association and now works as a club soccer coach for Santa Monica United, gave his girls the time off.
“The girls who play on club started in July and finished with the Nomad tournament in San Diego over Thanksgiving,” Chambers said. “Two to three weeks rest was vitally important.”
That came to an end the first week of January, in a big way, when the Dolphins played two exceptionally tough West Valley teams.
On Jan. 3, Pali managed a 1-1 tie against El Camino Real, which lost to Taft in last year’s City Division championship game. Sophomore Daniela Flores scored the goal and sophomore Francesca Van Norden was credited with the assist.
Chambers predicts that El Camino will be seeded first in this year’s playoffs, and that Taft, despite losing its top scorer, will still be strong. (El Camino beat Taft, 4-2, on Friday.) The coach also praised Granada Hills’ improvement this season.
On Jan. 5, Pali battled Cleveland and won, 1-0. Sophomore Jordan Darrow got the goal, with an assist from Flores.
Pali has two tough goalies, seniors Katie Wilkes and Kate Nuckols, who manage to save almost every shot.
“We’re exactly where we want to be,” Chambers said after the victory. “We’re playing with a lot of heart and a lot of desire. This is a team with good soccer awareness.”
Darrow, who broke a bone in her foot in December, is slowly working her way back into the lineup.
On January 11, the Dolphins took on Santa Monica in a non-league home match, losing 3-2. “It was a good match, we got to experiment,” Chambers said. “We’re really starting to work together.”
Flores, who leads Palisades scoring with five goals, and who scored both goals against Santa Monica, has an uncanny abil- ity to anticipate play.
Her first goal, with an assist by Reemtsen, was a boot from the left side about 20 yards out. Her second goal was a header as she converted a kick from teammate Mikaela Kupfer from 30 yards out.
Afterwards Flores said, “It was one of the hardest games we’ve played—one of the most physical.”
Flores is on the LAFC Premier club team and has been playing soccer since she was six. “I didn’t play [at Pali] last year because I didn’t try out,” she said. “I kind of regretted it.” She’s optimistic about her team’s chances this year.
“We could win this year—we have a strong team,” said Flores, noting that Pali has some exceptional players
Chambers agrees with her. “The game results are not so important as what they’re learning on the pitch. It will all come down to the playoffs.”
Upcoming home games for the Dolphins are January 20 (Fairfax), Jan. 23 (Hamilton) and Jan. 25 (Westchester). Varsity games are at 2:30 p.m. and JV plays afterward. Admission is free.