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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Norwalk’s defense comes through again with another shutout

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

Coming into this season, Vinson Pluma was concerned about the defense of his Norwalk High boys soccer team. The Lancers, who advanced to last season’s California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division IV semifinals, graduated most of their defenders from their 16-7-1 campaign and the longtime head coach didn’t know how the team would perform this season.

As it turns out, at least through the first nine games, there’s no need to worry as the Lancers posted their fifth shutout after blanking John Glenn High 3-0 on a blustery day this past Wednesday. Norwalk (7-2-0 overall, 2-0 in the Suburban League) has also yielded one goal each in three other games.

“That was our biggest concern, but they’ve actually come together,” Pluma said of his defense. “And so now, they’re organized and they’re holding it down. They’re not letting any easy goals in. That’s been a big help.”

Pluma also praised his offense, even though it has scored 13 goals, because it has been possessing the ball more than the opponents. That was once again true against the Eagles (4-4-1, 0-2), who managed to get off just one shot in the game, and that came in the second half. Meanwhile, the Lancers had numerous opportunities to get on the board in the first half.

In the ninth minute, senior midfielder Benjamin Gonzalez had his first shot just go off to the right side of the net. In the 33rd minute, his point-blank shot was stuffed by junior goalkeeper Roberto Garcia while senior midfielder Allen Perez had the same result on the last play of the first half.

“I know the momentum swings with goals and so, we just need to score more often and earlier,” Pluma said. “That’s going to help us break teams. But, when we play the best teams in CIF, we’re going to need to be able to put the first goal in and hold it down all the way to the end.”

The Lancers finally hit pay dirt less than a minute into the second half when senior forward Christian Bolanos netted his second goal of the season. Five minutes later, junior midfielder Daniel Felix, who had been stymied numerous times in the first half, scored on a header after senior forward Alejandro Amador’s shot bounced off a Glenn defender. It was the second goal of the season for Felix, both coming in league action. The Lancers ended the contest with 16 shots, half coming in each half.

“One of the mistakes Daniel Felix recognized and actually said was that he made two extra moves that he shouldn’t have done, because the defense actually backed into the goal, closed it down and then there was no space,” Pluma said. “It was nice for him to score. For him to be hungry and him to be still looking to score and not [be] down on himself for missing so many or not having the chances, is what we expect from all the players.”

The final goal of the game came in the 66th minute from junior Angel Bernal. Norwalk will end the calendar year with a road game at El Rancho High on Wednesday while Glenn’s next game isn’t until Jan. 5 at Lynwood High.

In other boys soccer action, Artesia High blanked Bellflower High 6-0 in the Suburban League opener this past Monday and hosted Gahr High on Dec. 21. The Pioneers, who will also participate in the North Orange Country Championships beginning on Wednesday, are 7-3 overall.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Artesia got past Garey High 47-44 this past Wednesday to improve to 7-3 and hosted Ganesha High on Dec. 21. The Pioneers will face Western High on Wednesday in the first game of the Rancho Alamitos Tournament.

Glenn got past Norwalk 55-51 this past Wednesday to snap a 36-game league losing streak. The last time Glenn won a league contest was on Jan. 8, 2014, a 48-47 victory over Norwalk. Since 1999, the Eagles (4-5, 1-1) are 7-12 against the Lancers at home. Against the rest of the league, Glenn has five home wins combined during that same time. The Eagles host Los Amigos High tonight and will face Garden Grove High on Tuesday in the Rancho Alamitos Tournament.

Valley Christian fell to West Torrance High 59-48 last Saturday in the third place game of the Bellflower Tournament to drop to 7-3. The Crusaders hosted Marshall Fundamental High on Dec. 21 and will begin play in the Orange Holiday Classic on Wednesday against Golden Valley High.

Whitney High dropped to 3-11 after losing to San Marino High 81-48 this past Monday. The Wildcats hosted San Gabriel Academy on Dec. 21 for their final game of the month.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Artesia began league play with a 53-48 loss to Bellflower High this past Monday and will go to the Bay Area for the West Coast Jamboree where it will face Northgate High on Thursday at Ygnacio Valley High.

Cerritos knocked off La Mirada 57-44 this past Wednesday and will take its 7-3 overall mark into Tuesday’s meeting with Edison High in the first round of the Larry Doyle/Dan Wiley Tournament.

Gahr (4-5) has not played since Dec. 14 but will face Roosevelt High on Wednesday, Del Norte High on Thursday and Tesoro High on Friday in the Southern California Holiday Prep Classic.

GIRLS SOCCER

Artesia was blanked by Bellflower 3-0 this past Monday to fall to 3-6-1 and will not play until Jan. 2 when it travels to St. Joseph High.

Gahr fell to Savanna High 3-1 this past Tuesday for its final game of the month. The Lady Gladiators are 4-5-2.

Norwalk moved to 4-8 overall and evened its league mark after two games following a 4-0 win at Glenn this past Wednesday. It’s the final game of the month for the Lady Lancers, who will resume league play on Jan. 4 against Mayfair High.

Valley Christian blanked Whitney High 6-0 this past Wednesday and is 8-3-1. It was the seventh shutout for the Lady Crusaders, who have yielded six regulation goals thus far. V.C. will play Pomona Catholic High on Wednesday in the first round of the Ontario Christian Tournament.

 

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