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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
For the third straight Olympic League contest this season, Valley Christian High is showing why it has won three straight league titles and looking for a fourth. The Valley Christian offense kept constant pressure on Village Christian and the defense put together another stellar performance in a 4-0 victory this past Tuesday evening at Crusader Field.
It was the third shutout in as many league games for Valley Christian, and in the process, extended Village Christian’s league losing streak to 19 games. First-year head coach Andy Anderson, who had been coaching the freshman/sophomore team at Los Alamitos High for the past four seasons before replacing Sean Toth, saw his offense pepper Jake Byrd for 23 shots on goal.
Valley Christian’s first legitimate chance to score came just eight minutes into the contest when junior midfielder Clay D’Amico’s one on one shot was blocked by Byrd. But in the 21st minute, a shot taken from junior forward Noah Silverman hit the right post, bounced back out and through the chaos in front of the net, was tapped in by a Village Christian defender for an own goal.
Valley Christian (6-5-3 overall, 3-0-0 in league) went up 2-0 in the 29th minute on a beautiful display of tic-tac-toe as senior midfielder Lam Pham fed a pass to Silverman who then knocked the ball over to senior forward Roger Ramos who notched his fourth goal of the season.
“The most important time after a goal is those first couple of minutes,” Anderson said. “And if you can jump on them right away, that’s when a team gets demoralized, especially after an own goal. They happened to really fight back and tried to get going but we used our possession again and our opportunity to get them behind. It was probably the nicest finish of the night.”
Then with two minutes left in the half, D’Amico made it 3-0 with the assist going to junior forward Jarrod Chacko. Valley Christian would take 11 shots on goal in the half while junior goalkeeper Misha Marson was challenged only once.
“In the first 20 minutes, we were on their half [of the field] and getting at them,” Anderson said. “The possession was there, everything was there and our looks were there. We couldn’t finish and that’s been our problem the last couple of games. We had a talk with the boys before the game [and said] if we can finish early, we can put these guys away nice and early.”
Valley Christian was looking for more early in the second half and in the 48th minute, senior forward Trent Berkenkamp got loose on a breakaway, only to see his shot sail high. But five minutes later, Silverman closed out the scoring when he spun through the Village Christian defense as he entered the penalty box and knocked in his fourth goal, all coming in league action.
Valley Christian missed a golden opportunity to add at least two more goals when a free kick from Chacko in the 71st minute hit the crossbar as it was curling towards the upper right corner of the net. With three minutes remaining in the game, a long shot from freshman midfielder Grigorios Papachristos ricocheted off the top of the crossbar. This was the second 4-0 win over Village Christian this season. The first time came on Dec. 5 in a Temple City Tournament game.
Valley Christian began the season at 3-1, but went through a one-week stretch in which it lost four straight games where it scored one goal. But now, Valley Christian has gone 3-0-2 since a 3-0 loss to St. Margaret’s High on Dec. 18.
“Our possession wasn’t there, the physicality wasn’t there and mentally it was not there,” Anderson said of last month. “We had a good, long talk after the [St. Margaret’s] game and used that as our turning point. We saw two directions we could take-we can continue downhill or we turn things and start fighting back uphill, and that’s what we did.”
Valley Christian visits Maranatha High today to wrap up the first round of league action and will host Heritage Christian High on Jan. 29 and Maranatha on Feb. 5 in what is probably the toughest stretch of the team’s schedule.
“Maranatha, in the past, has given Valley some trouble,” Anderson said. “Heritage as well, and thus far, being 3-0 is a great start. But I do think the middle of our [league] schedule is the toughest for us. If they can go 6-0 to start, they’ll put themselves in a fantastic situation to win league.”
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