Upland High School girls’ soccer protected their undefeated 2019/2020 season with strong play throughout the CIF Southern Section playoffs. The Lady Scots’ most competitive game resulted in a 2-1 overtime win in the quarterfinal over visiting Harvard Westlake. Despite stronger performances against the other teams they faced in the CIFSS, Upland still had to overcome adversity such as larger opponents, poor field conditions and challenging weather.
“Our mentality always has been that we are going to be the hardest-working team,” said Upland Head Coach Bo Whieldon. “We know that every game, we’re going to get everybody else’s best game and so we prepared for that.”
The Lady Scots’ mentality helped push them to 26-0 on the season and earned them a spot in the CIFSS Championship game.
Upland’s first game came in the first round against Huntington Beach on February 13. Even though the Lady Scots were outsized and outmanned by their opponents, Upland did not let it faze them as they had the competitive edge.
“It’s not all about the skill and technique,” said Upland Co-Captain Kaya Pigoni. “If we’re working harder than the other team, work is going to outshine skill.”
The Lady Scots did just that as they had a strong performance en route to a 4-0 victory to open the postseason and their 21st shutout out of 23 games played on the season. Despite only allowing goals in two games, goalkeeper Abby Ito credited the team for keeping their opponents off the scoreboard so often.
In the second round, Upland defeated Cypress on the road, 3-0, on February 15. The win served as revenge as Cypress eliminated the Lady Scots from the postseason last year on the same field. A difference between this year and last year was that the Lady Scots were better prepared for the poor conditions at Cypress’ grass field.
“When we showed up last year, we were caught off guard by what we were going to play on. This year, we knew exactly what we’re playing on,” said Coach Whieldon.
Co-Captain and the team’s leading scorer Marin Whieldon used last year’s loss as motivation for the game, especially after Upland’s opponent told them to get off the field last year. She also used last year’s loss to motivate the rest of her team.
“Everybody wants revenge and is ready to die for that revenge,” said Whieldon.
Whieldon used that motivation to score two goals off of penalty kicks to help the Lady Scots build a 3-0 lead before halftime. They used their strong defense to keep Cypress off the scoreboard, get their revenge and move onto the next round.
As co-captains and seniors, Whieldon and Pigoni are not only tasked with leading the team on the field, but off the field as well. Along with other seniors on the team, they motivate and help underclassmen such as Jessica Wilke as they experience their first CIFSS postseason.
“I get really nervous before games and I think everyone calming me down, telling me I got it and everything, it makes me feel like I can do it,” Wilke said.
Upland’s next game was more competitive as they needed overtime to defeat Harvard Westlake on February 19. At home, the Lady Scots scored early after Erin Schrock hit a header into the left side of the net to give Upland a 1-0 lead. However, Harvard Westlake responded a few moments later with a goal of their own to tie the game at one.
The game remained tied throughout the second half as both teams missed opportunities to score. However, Coach Whieldon believed his team played much better in the second half due to the adjustments he made at halftime to slow down Harvard Westlake.
“They weren’t being able to play as easy as they were in the first half. We put them under a lot more pressure,” said Coach Whieldon.
However, the adjustments did not affect the scoreboard until after the game went into overtime. Once the overtime period began, the Lady Scots shifted into another gear in order to prevent their season from ending. Only a few minutes into the extra period, Jiselle Casillas kicked the ball from deep over the goalie into the top right corner of the net to give Upland the 2-1 victory.
“I didn’t think it was going to go in, but it was worth a shot,” said Casillas.
The overtime victory came in front of a passionate home crowd at Upland High School where the Lady Scots believe they cannot lose.
“We knew we weren’t going to lose here, not home,” Casillas said. “This is our field, this is turf, we practice here. We knew we could do it.”
Upland fans continued to show up, even when it was pouring rain in the semifinal against Edison on February 22. Despite the poor weather conditions, the Lady Scots won again, 2-0, to advance to the CIFSS championship game.
“I find motivation in the rain,” said Marin Whieldon. “We’ve played in the rain before and it doesn’t affect us.”
Neither team was able to score in the first half as they played through the heavy downpour. Despite several scoring opportunities, Upland could not break the tie as both teams went into halftime scoreless.
The Lady Scots finally broke through early in the second half when Whieldon got the ball into the top right corner of the net to give Upland a 1-0 lead. As the rain poured on and off throughout the second half, the Lady Scots played strong defense and kept the ball away from Edison to keep their lead. Whieldon scored again to give Upland a 2-0 lead when she made a header into the right net.
With their four wins in the postseason, the Lady Scots cemented themselves as a dominant girls’ soccer program in California as they clinched a spot in the CIFSS championship game against Santiago High School. For Co-Captain Marin Whieldon, this would be her first CIFSS Championship game in the final season of her four-year career at Upland. Even though she was a member of the 2017/2018 Lady Scots team that won the 2018 CIF State title, her hopes were for her 2019/2020 team to beat Santiago in the 2020 CIF Southern Section title game before she leaves.
“It would be amazing to finish this off with a deep breath because we deserve this,” said Whieldon.
The Lady Scots used their gritty mentality throughout the CIFSS postseason to overcome adversity in whatever form it came in. To get a better idea of how they accomplished that, you can witness it here.
Please go to KSNN.net Feed to read full article.