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CYPRESS FC CUP: Liverpool begins new season with tournament championship

By Loren Kopff

BELLFLOWER-It’s a new season with a different age group, relatively the same team as last season and already the Cerritos Football Club’s Liverpool Under-16 girls soccer team is off to a great start. In the first tournament of the season, the Liverpool had little trouble in winning the Cypress FC Cup for the Under-17 age group at Bellflower High School.

The Cerritos Football Club Liverpool Under-16 girls soccer team won the Cypress FC Cup, the first tournament of the season. Top row (left to right): Head coach Joul Farah, Miriam Melendez, Kimberly Alvarez, Sabrina Gonzalez, Emilie Botello, Kayla Rivas, Meagan Gruber, Madison Brown, Bethany Nunez, Emilia Mariolis and assistant coach Natalie Farah with daughter Nadiya. Bottom row (left to right): Patricia Moreno, Marlene Palafox, Tara Kazimi, Kayla Delgado, Lana Hudson, Karla Ruiz, JulieAnn Diaz and Cindy Ruiz. Not pictured are Amanda Duran and Natalie Hernandez.

The Cerritos Football Club Liverpool Under-16 girls soccer team won the Cypress FC Cup, the first tournament of the season. Top row (left to right): Head coach Joul Farah, Miriam Melendez, Kimberly Alvarez, Sabrina Gonzalez, Emilie Botello, Kayla Rivas, Meagan Gruber, Madison Brown, Bethany Nunez, Emilia Mariolis and assistant coach Natalie Farah with daughter Nadiya. Bottom row (left to right): Patricia Moreno, Marlene Palafox, Tara Kazimi, Kayla Delgado, Lana Hudson, Karla Ruiz, JulieAnn Diaz and Cindy Ruiz. Not pictured are Amanda Duran and Natalie Hernandez.

For the second time in the tournament, the Liverpool defeated the (Chino) Freedom FC 4-1 in the championship game this past Sunday afternoon, ending a weekend in which the team won three games, tied another and allowed just two goals.

“[This championship] was very important because the girls hear me talking and telling them how good we’re going to be,” said head coach Joul Farah. “By winning this, it builds up their confidence.”

After a scoreless tie against the (Riverside) Legends last Saturday in pool play action, the Liverpool rolled past the Freedom FC 4-1 behind two goals from Amanda Duran (La Mirada High School). Tara Kazimi (Downey High School) and Lana Hudson (Long Beach Poly High School) also scored.

This past Sunday morning in one semifinal game, the Liverpool hooked up with the Cerritos Strikers FC, formerly the Cerritos Infinity, and turned a slow start into a 3-0 victory. The Liverpool attacked early and often but still couldn’t find the back of the net until midway through the first half. In the 8th minute, Kazimi was one on one with the Strikers goalkeeper but her shot was blocked and the rebound by Hudson sailed high. Five minutes later, the Liverpool had a three on one situation but another shot by Kazimi was blocked again.

“It just gets frustrating because when you miss, all you’re doing is keeping the other team in the game,” Farah said. “In soccer, anything can happen. I’ve been in this business for too long to know that you can dominate and all it takes is one shot or one mistake and you lose the game.”

However, two minutes later, Hudson scored off a corner kick from Marlene Palafox (St. Joseph High School) and moments after that, Sabrina Gonzalez (Troy High School) basically iced the game. The Liverpool took five shots on goal in the half while goalkeeper Kayla Rivas (Long Beach Poly) was barely tested, making one save and facing two shots.

Gonzalez scored the last goal of the game in the 42nd minute when her long shot went inside the left side of the net. It was one of just three shots Farah’s team took in the second half.

That set the stage for the rematch with the Freedom FC in the championship game and Cerritos was hardly challenged again. Three minutes into the contest, Kazimi was denied on another one-on-one opportunity and the score remained tied until Hudson scored in the 26th minute with Gonzalez getting the assist. Two minutes later, Kayla Delgado (La Habra High School) scored off a deflection and Cerritos was right where it wanted to be.

The Liverpool kept the pressure on early in the second half even though a header from Kazimi following a corner kick sailed a bit too high of the crossbar. But in the 37th minute, Gonzalez got loose on the left side and took a shot from just inside the penalty box that found the right side of the net and a 3-0 lead.

After the Freedom FC spoiled the shutout bid, Kazimi wrapped up the scoring when her breakaway shot was uncontested. The Liverpool took 13 shots in the game and Rivas made only two saves off of six shots.

“Yesterday they took a lead on us early and we were watching for the first 10 minutes,” Farah said. “Then we picked it up. We adjusted a little bit more today. Even though we beat them 4-1 yesterday, we dominated today much more than we did yesterday.”

The Liverpool will be in action this weekend in the United FC Cup, playing up again (in the Under-17 age group) and against stronger competition. On Saturday, the Liverpool will play the (Torrance) Beach FC and the (Yorba Linda) Chelsea SC G96 Blue squad. On Sunday, Cerritos meets with the Pleasanton Rage 96. All of the games will be at Irvine Valley College.

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