Scrappy, tough and physical. The Centennial girls soccer team was all those things in its opening round game of the Garces Holiday Soccer Festival on Friday.
However, the Golden Hawks' determined effort wasn't nearly enough though to keep them from losing 3-1 to powerful West Hills-Chaminade in first round play of the Girls Elite 8 Division at the State Farm Sports Village.
Chaminade (5-0-1) took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half, courtesy of a Centennial own-goal, and never relinquished control.
The Eagles, ranked No. 10 in the state by MaxPreps and the tournament's defending Elite 8 champion, had nine shots on goal compared to just one for Centennial.
Down 2-0 at halftime, the Golden Hawks (3-2-2) got back to within striking distance early in the second half on a Madison Parks goal.
But roughly eight minutes later a Centennial turnover deep on its side led to a score by Brittany McKinney that extended Chaminade's advantage to 3-1.
"I thought (Centennial) did a great job," Chaminade coach Mike Evans said. "They were feisty, one of the tougher teams we've played so far. They were on us the whole time."
The other two local teams in the Girls Elite 8 Division also lost on Friday.
Liberty was edged 1-0 by Clovis North while Stockdale got beat 4-1 by Fresno-Central.
Despite losing, Centennial coach Lindsay Long said she thought her team played well.
"Chaminade is very strong and physical," she said. "They were first to the ball most of the second half. When a team is first to the ball, they're probably going to be successful.
"So we played a great game against them. We were physical and matched up well."
The Eagles converted two of their five corner kicks into goals, including a Jenna Halbrook header into the back of the net off a well-struck cross from Desteny Vasquez.
That goal came just four minutes after Parks accidentally deflected Chaminade's second corner kick of the game past her keeper.
"At that point I think the girls kind of broke down a little bit," Long said of the own-goal. "And then Chaminade scored off a set piece, which they're excellent at."
The Golden Hawks regrouped at halftime and came out strong to start the final 40 minutes.
In the game's 47th minute they broke finally through when Parks took a pass at the top of the box and nailed a perfectly placed shot into the top, left corner of the net.
"My teammate Morgan Collins gave a great ball and I timed it perfectly and just got it in," Parks said.
Parks' goal is only the second allowed this season by Chaminade, which has nine starters back from a squad that lost 1-0 last year to eventual champion Aliso Niguel in the Southern Section Division I playoffs.
"We got a lot of seniors in the back," Evans said. "We got a senior and a junior keeper. Both are solid. And straight across the back, all seniors. These are girls that have played four years of varsity. So our experience back there is going to be kind of our thing this year is to play strong defensively."
Centennial and Chaminade are among 129 teams, divided up into eight boys divisions and nine girls divisions, competing in the two-day tournament hosted by Garces.
The best Centennial, Liberty, and Stockdale can now hope for is fifth place.
Stockdale battled back from an early 2-0 deficit against Central with a goal by Katelyn Thatcher that pulled the Mustangs to within one at halftime.
But the Grizzlies (11-2) kept up the pressure in the second half, firing 12 shots on goal.
Justine Fuentes had a pair of goals, one in each half, for Central.
Kelly Garzon and Ely De Alba tallied the Grizzlies' other two scores.
"They just out-hustled us today," Stockdale coach Janien McGowan said. "That's just the way it goes. You've got to be first to the ball and they were just half-a-step ahead of us today."
Stockdale goal keeper Tori Farris, who was under constant attack, had seven second-half saves.
"We just didn't get too organized in the back and we kind of pushed another person up since we were down," McGowan said. ... "Our goal keeper did an outstanding job. It could have been a lot more than it was. She made some great saves for us. I'm very proud of her."