Girls varsity soccer defeats Lawndale in first league game of season



Candice Anvari staff writer
Body slams and unexpected aggressiveness did not keep the girls varsity soccer team from winning 3-1 against the Lawndale Cardinals (2-6) in their first Ocean League match of the season. 
The calm of the day was invigorated by the competitive, determined energy the Normans emitted to defeat the Cardinals. The team’s strong defense prevented the Cardinals from scoring more than one goal throughout the match. According to Head coach Ryan Franks, the Normans were up against a “strong goalie” on the opposing side, giving the Cardinals an advantage on the defense. 
The first two goals were scored toward the end of the first half and the third was scored during the middle of the second half. The goals were made by junior Esther Goldberg, freshman Katrina Chong and junior Sara Schwartz. When the three girls were preparing to kick the ball, anxiousness filled the air, but as they succeeded in getting the ball past the goalie their teammates radiated with pride. The excitement of their teammates emitted into the crowd as they cheered and high-fived each other on the sidelines.  
Franks had not expected such intensity from Lawndale. He believed the Normans’ hadn’t expected such a “physical” match because his team was more “technical and skillful,”  but they were able to adapt to the Cardinals’ tactics as the game progressed. 
Freshman Rena Nassirzadeh injured her knee, two minutes before the match ended, as a result of a forceful block by one of the opposing team’s players, showing the Cardinals were not afraid to push and shove. Since the shove was at the end of the match, the opposing side was not penalized and the match was able to continue for the remaining minute.  
“I feel like we struggled a little bit in the first half. Lawndale came out very physical and intense, and I feel like it took us maybe 20 to 30 minutes to play to that kind of physicality,” Franks said. “They played really hard and they have a really good goalie, so we had a hard time today.” 
The Normans matched the Cardinals’ strong defense as the game progressed, keeping the opposing team in check as the other team’s players neared the goal. Whenever the Cardinals attempted to score a goal, their attempts were blocked by goalie Nahal Sarafian. 
Despite the Normans’ victory, Sarafian believed it wasn’t their “best match” because they would’ve preferred to have come out “less messy” and more precise. Similarly, Goldberg thought their previous matches were stronger and more strategical. 
“I thought we played okay, but this wasn’t our best game. Although, watching the team play makes me feel like we have a good future,” Goldberg said. 
The team’s next game is a home game on Friday, Jan. 10 at 3 p.m. against the El Segundo Eagles (3-4)