First published in the December 16 print issue of the Outlook Vallée Soleil.

Last season, women’s football from La Cañada High School won the Rio Hondo League title. This success means this season could be historic for the Spartans.
“The No. 1 goal from the start is to try and win the league,” said La Cañada coach Kevin Neumeier. “We won last year, so now we could be the first team to face La Cañada.”
The Spartans believe it will take a collective effort to write this story.
“We like to keep possession. The ownership structure is really important to us. [It’s important] be a balanced team; it takes all 11s on the pitch to be successful, and not a single individual will win us the championship, ”said Neumeier. “It will be total teamwork. When we play, all 11s have to defend and all 11s have to attack and be involved in the game. ”
Neumeier, who is in his 10th season at the helm, knows that in order to defend his league championship the key will be to stay locked up.
“Our league is short and quick from one to eight games,” said Neumeier, whose side went 6-1-1 at Rio Hondo last season to claim the title. “For eight games, can you take each game to the level that we need? When you face these four teams twice a year, it doesn’t matter what is written about the best team, it goes out the window. It depends on who can go out and do the job that day.
La Cañada has a trio of capable captains: Shania Clorefine, Jenna Milbrodt and Catherine Mispagel.
“I have three captains who have been here before, know what I want and lead by example,” said Neumeier. “They definitely put in the work. They will do anything for the team, and when you have such leadership, the other girls will follow suit and just watch the example. I think the leadership of this team is one of the best I have had.
All three are multisport athletes. Milbrodt and Mispagel were runners on the just-second cross country team in the state. Clorefine has just completed his third season in the football team as a top kicker.
“Now I tell my other daughters that someone has to step in and keep going because [Clorefine] graduated this year. They need to step up and complement, ”Neumeier said.
Milbrodt and Mispagel are midfielders. “These girls work so hard and do it both on offense and defense,” said the coach. Clorefine will play an offensive role; “She’s going to score, but she’s also looking for her teammates and trying to put them in place. He’s a unique striker to have.
The anchor of the defense is Kyra Davis, reigning Rio Hondo League defensive MVP. The goalie behind her will be a pair of senior goaltenders Noemi Fusco and sophomore Montana La Barge.
“Both goalies will put their bodies on the line, which is the first thing you ask,” Neumeier said. “You have to sit there and take a face or body photo, [and] the two will not back down.
Three freshmen went to college, the most within Neumeier’s tenure. These are the versatile Chartlotte Krinsky; Hailee Talao, who is “very creative with the ball on her feet”; and Samantha Neumeier, who is a “well-rounded player”.
“They force their way there and are part of the team. [They] will definitely help, ”said their coach.
Samantha is the oldest of his children, which makes her the first to play for him as a high school student.
“It’s a special moment for us,” said coach Neumeier.
Neumeier considers South Pasadena and Temple City as the two biggest challengers in the league.
“I am very excited for this [season] coming up, ”Neumeier said. “The girls and the players I have on the team are exactly what I’m looking for and now I just hope we can put them all together, have great success. [season] and do some history back to back.