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La Mirada spoils Artesia’s league title hopes again in scoreless tie

SUBURBAN LEAGUE GIRLS SOCCER

By Loren Kopff

The good news for the Artesia girls soccer team was that for the second time in school history, it didn’t lose a game on the field to Suburban League nemesis La Mirada. But the bad news was the Pioneers didn’t win either and as a result, dreams of winning the school’s first league title were dashed.
This past Wednesday, Artesia had to settle for a 0-0 tie against the Matadores, who in turn all but clinched yet another league crown. The game was billed as the biggest one the league slate for both teams but most of the flare was lost when the Pioneers tied Mayfair 0-0 this past Monday. That left the Pioneers five points behind La Mirada with three to play in the regular season and following the La Mirada result, they’re still five points behind but now with two to play.
“We were a little disappointed after the Mayfair game, especially after beating them 5-0 at home,” said Artesia head coach Octavio Marquez. “We didn’t play very well against Mayfair but we needed to move on because we knew today was a big game for us.”
“In hindsight, we settle for the tie,” said La Mirada head coach Dave Christensen. “Never do we go in for a tie. We knew the Mayfair tie had implications on this game but that’s not what we’re all about. We’re trying to play the best soccer we can play every time out.”
La Mirada clearly dominated the regulation portion of the game, outshooting the hosts 12-5 with several golden opportunities to score. But once overtime hit, Artesia’s intensity picked up, especially in the 92nd minute. That’s when senior forward Betty Gomez sent a pass to junior midfielder Stephanie Flores who apparently scored the game winner amongst a crowd situated in front of the net .But the referees waived off the goal much to the chagrin of Marquez.
“I honestly thought it was a goal,” Marquez said. “The refs said we fouled their goalie but the goalie never had possession of the ball.”
With one minute remaining in the second overtime, La Mirada sophomore defender Aubry Baran missed on a breakaway and five seconds left in the contest, a Flores header off a corner kick sailed above the net.
The first golden chance for the Matadores, ranked fourth in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division IV poll, came in the 20th minute when junior midfielder Ileen Mejia’s free kick hit the crossbar. Another free kick, this time in the 45th minute, sailed high and off to the right.
Artesia didn’t make a serious threat until four minutes remained in the first half. Senior forward Carolina Ornelas sent a pass to junior midfielder Jessica Macias. But her shot was stonewalled by junior goalkeeper Christina Prieto.
“It’s a problem we’ve been having the past couple of games with our offense,” Marquez said. “Our transition from defense to offense wasn’t there. You have to give [La Mirada] credit.”
It was the third shot of the half for the ninth ranked team in the division and the Pioneers would get two more in the second half. Meanwhile, La Mirada came very close three times in a six minute span midway through the second half. In the 53rd minute, sophomore midfielder Kylie Watkins had two hard shots stopped by sophomore goalkeeper Cyndie Trejo. Five minutes later, Trejo tipped a shot from Mejia near the crossbar and over the net. The shutout was the seventh of the season for Trejo, who has been a pleasant surprise in her first season at the varsity level.
“At the beginning of the season, that was our question mark,” Marquez said. “We knew she was there but we knew she lacked the experience. But actually she has surprised us. She’s made strides; she’s actually played well.”
“We played our game plan,” Christensen said. “We shifted a little bit midway to take away what they could bring to the table and then we went back to our game plan with three up front. It put more pressure on them but we just couldn’t put it away today.”
Artesia still has never defeated La Mirada on the field. In 2010, La Mirada came away with a 2-1 win but later had to forfeit the victory. This was the second tie, both scoreless, between the two teams with the other coming on Jan. 23, 2008, also at Artesia. In fact, since 2008 on Artesia’s field, the game has been decided by one goal or tied five times. La Mirada can officially clinch the league title today against Norwalk while Artesia hopes to get back on the winning track today at Bellflower.
“I was a little frustrated with the result,” Christensen said. “Not to take anything away from Artesia. They played a great game today and they had their opportunities too. It’s one of those games that could have gone either way.”