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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Artesia girls soccer gets a gift from Norwalk in rare victory

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

 

Not too long ago, the Artesia High and Norwalk High girls soccer teams were battling it out for fourth place and the last playoff spot from the Suburban League. But hard times have hit both squads this season as they entered their second round meeting this past Wednesday with a combined three straight wins.

But the host Lady Pioneers kept their faint playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Norwalk, improving to 5-11-2 overall and 2-5-1 in league. Artesia jumped over the Lady Lancers in the process and avenged an earlier 2-1 defeat.

“The last Norwalk game I felt like we dominated,” said Artesia head coach Valerie Blomquist. “We were up, [then] we got an indirect kick in the box right at the end that kind of changed the tide. So, this game was definitely a little bit of redemption for that.”

The lone goal came six minutes into the second half when senior midfielder Brittany Llanes was tripped in the penalty box and deposited her shot through the right side of the net for her team-leading seventh goal and the 21st for the Lady Pioneers. Llanes had scored four goals against John Glenn High the week before the Norwalk contest.

“I think she just sets an example more with her actions, especially,” Blomquist said. “So, she’ll go out there and she just dominates wherever she’s at. And I think the players feed off her. When she’s having a good game and she’s just moving off, they feel that energy that she kind of puts off.”

Even though Artesia dominated in the first half, peppering Norwalk freshman goalkeeper Alicia Mendez for seven shots, it couldn’t find the back of the net. The best chance came in the 28th minute when sophomore midfielder Kimberly Flores took a free kick five yards from the penalty arc which Mendez saved.

In the second half, the Pioneers kept most of the action on Norwalk’s side as the hosts got off five more shots. The lone chance the Lady Lancers (5-13, 2-6) had to tie the game came in the 73rd minute when sophomore forward Victoria Navarro’s shot towards the upper right corner of the net was punched out by junior netminder Julia Calderon.

“Strategy-wise, I think the best defense is being on offense,” Blomquist said. “Just keeping control of the ball, keeping it on the ground, passing it…we do well when we keep it on the floor and connect with each other.”

Artesia has gone 2-1-1 in its last four games and Blomquist says the team has been clicking together recently. The team has had a ton of opportunities to score, but just hasn’t been able to finish.

“I feel like the younger players are starting to find their grooves,” she said. “I think the second half season is going to be really good.

Artesia will host Cerritos High today while Norwalk visits Mayfair High today before entertaining Glenn on Wednesday.

In other girls soccer action, Cerritos defeated Bellflower High 3-1 this past Wednesday for its third straight win. The Lady Dons (9-7-1, 5-2) will host first place La Mirada High on Wednesday.

Gahr High had not scored a goal in three straight games before visiting Dominguez High on Jan. 25. The Lady Gladiators, whose lone San Gabriel Valley League win was against Dominguez on Jan. 9, will visit Lynwood High on Tuesday before hosting Warren High on Thursday.

Glenn’s long season continued with a 13-0 loss to La Mirada this past Wednesday as the Lady Eagles dropped to 0-13-1 overall. Glenn has scored in two games this season and has allowed double-digit goals in three straight games.

Valley Christian High remains the hottest team in the area as it won its ninth straight game following a 3-0 shutout at Heritage Christian High this past Tuesday. The Lady Crusaders (16-3-1, 3-0 in the Olympic League) are off until Feb. 2 when they visit Maranatha High.

Whitney High was edged by Sage Hill High 2-1 this past Tuesday to drop to 6-6-1, 3-4 in the Academy League as the Lady Wildcats visited Samueli Academy on Jan. 25. Whitney will then travel to Brethren Christian High on Monday and Crean Lutheran High on Wednesday.

BOYS SOCCER

Artesia’s three-game winning streak was snapped by Norwalk in a 1-0 loss this past Wednesday in a battle of perennial Suburban League powers. The Pioneers, who will visit Cerritos today, dropped to 14-6-1, 6-2 and are a game behind front-running La Mirada. Norwalk improved to 10-6, 5-3 and will host third place Mayfair today before going to Glenn on Wednesday.

Cerritos remained winless in seven Suburban League games and still has won twice all season as it will visit La Mirada on Wednesday.

Gahr has not won a game this season in six tries and will host Lynwood on Tuesday before going to Warren on Thursday. Glenn was blanked by Mayfair and La Mirada this past Monday and Wednesday by identical 1-0 scores to drop to 5-10-1, 0-8. The Eagles have been shutout in 10 of their last 11 games.

Valley Christian blasted Heritage Christian 8-1 this past Tuesday to up its mark to 6-7-2, 2-1-1 in the Olympic League. The Crusaders will entertain Village Christian High today. Whitney has lost two straight games after winning two straight games following a 4-1 setback to Sage Hill this past Tuesday. The Wildcats (3-12, 3-4 in the Academy League) will host Brethren Christian on Monday and Crean Lutheran on Wednesday.

BASKETBALL

Both Gahr teams will host Dominguez tonight and Lynwood on Wednesday night. The girls fell to Downey High 60-50 this past Wednesday to fall to 9-10, 2-3 in the San Gabriel Valley League and are in fourth place.

Both Valley Christian teams will visit Village Christian tonight and in addition, the girls will travel to St. Anthony High on Thursday. The boys improved to 15-7, 2-2 in the Olympic League following a 100-92 win at Heritage Christian this past Tuesday while the girls (7-13, 2-2) knocked off Heritage Christian 56-51 for their second straight win.

Whitney will host Brethren Christian on Monday and Crean Lutheran on Wednesday. The boys fell to Sage Hill 51-43 this past Tuesday to drop to 5-17, 2-5 in the Academy League while the girls avenged an earlier loss to the Lightning and won 46-38 for their fourth straight victory. The girls are 14-8, 5-2 and tied for second with Sage Hill.

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