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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
There was a time when the Cerritos High girls soccer team owned Artesia High, winning 16 out of 21 games from 1998-2007. But since then, the Pioneers have turned the tables on their Suburban League rivals and are using their defense to show the rest of the circuit that they have what it takes to win the program’s first league championship.
Host Artesia blanked Cerritos 1-0 this past Wednesday to improve to 9-3-1 overall and 2-1 in league action. It was the second straight 1-0 win as over the Lady Dons as well as their 12th win in the past 15 meeting with Cerritos. Now, Artesia is 7-8-4 on its home turf over Cerritos since 1998 with this encounter being the first time it has shutout the Lady Dons.
What made this game even more interesting was the fact that both teams had combined to win 16 games while allowing a combined 15 goals in 24 games played.
“Cerritos has been playing defensively,” said Artesia head coach Octavio Marquez. “They’re well organized and do a good job of defending. That’s what’s been carrying us ever since last year. We’ve been defending well. We were fortunate to get one through and give us that 1-0 win.”
Both teams were stagnant offensively for much of the first half with neither team getting off a shot until the 16th minute. The lone Cerritos shot in the first half, which was by junior forward Lauryn Bautista, didn’t come until the 25th minute. In the 31st minute, the Pioneers had something going but a pass from freshman midfielder Celeste Rodriguez to senior defender Guadalupe Trejo was off the mark.
But with two minutes left before halftime, junior midfielder Karina Murguia fed a pass to sophomore forward Brittany Llanes who weaved through the defense and challenged Cerritos senior goalie Yvette Galicia, who met Llanes at the top of the penalty box. However, Artesia’s second leading scorer had enough to bypass Galicia and poke in her seventh goal.
“I thought we came out a little flat,” Marquez said. “We really needed to get back on our feet after our loss to Bellflower. We made an adjustment a little bit there and started picking it up. Obviously after the first 25 minutes we started taking a little more control of the game.”
Both teams played more defense in the second half and combined for only three shots. While the Lady Dons dropped to 8-3-2 overall and 2-2 in league play, Artesia improved to 9-3-1 overall, 2-1 in the circuit. It was Artesia’s seventh shutout thus far. Coupled with league-leading Bellflower High’s 2-2 tie with La Mirada High this past Wednesday, the Pioneers are four points out of first place and are currently in second place while Cerritos dropped to fifth place. Last season, Artesia won 11 games.
“I think the league is going to be very interesting this year,” Marquez chuckled. “We go and we beat Mayfair, then we get beat by Bellflower. The league is going to be very competitive; very even. There are some surprises.”
Artesia will host John Glenn High today and league nemesis La Mirada High on Wednesday while Cerritos hosts La Mirada today.
In other girls soccer action, Gahr High lost to Lynwood High 6-0 this past Wednesday in the San Gabriel Valley League opener for both teams. The Gladiators, who went 4-6-1 last month, visited Warren High on Jan. 14 and will host Paramount High on Tuesday before travelling to Downey High on Thursday.
Glenn, which was shutout by Cerritos (4-0) and Mayfair (11-0) before its meeting with Norwalk this past Wednesday, will host Bellflower on Wednesday. The Lady Eagles were 4-6 entering the Norwalk game. Norwalk (1-7-2, 0-3), which fell to Cerritos 6-1 this past Monday, will travel to Mayfair on Wednesday.
Valley Christian High tied Whittier Christian High 1-1 last Friday in the Olympic League opener. Sophomore Julie Sainz scored the lone goal as the Lady Crusaders (5-7-2, 0-0-1) hosted Heritage Christian High on Jan. 14 and will visit Village Christian High on Tuesday.
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