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Artesia navigates its way into unchartered territory with overtime win against Sailors

English: State Seal of the California Intersch...

English: State Seal of the California Interscholastic Federation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


By Loren Kopff

If there was any doubt about the Artesia girls soccer program before this past Tuesday evening’s California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division IV second round game, now it is completely clear. The Pioneers are definitely players in the division.

For the second straight game, Artesia won a 3-2 overtime contest, this time upsetting ninth ranked Marymount, who lost in the Division IV championship game last season. The Pioneers received a gift five minutes into overtime when a hand ball against a Marymount player was called. Junior forward Tiffany Castillo converted the penalty kick for her 16th goal of the season. Artesia had entered this season without a playoff victory in school history. Now, the Pioneers have advanced to the quarterfinals where they visited top ranked South Torrance on Feb. 21.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Artesia head coach Octavio Marquez. “God has something special for this team. We have the best record in school history and I’ve been telling the girls we have to keep working hard. We’ve been working and it’s showing.

“My team is pretty fit,” Marquez later added. “They hate us for all of the running we did over vacation. But this is where it shows. We really didn’t get tired.”

It didn’t take that long for the 10th ranked Pioneers to strike first on this blustery night in which both teams avoided the forecasted rain. Three minutes into the contest, junior midfielder Jessica Macias took a pass from senior forward Carolina Ornelas and notched her ninth goal of the season. The Pioneers held the lead until the 27th minute when Natalie Gigg, who was heavily covered, somehow found a way to get the equalizer.

But six minutes later, Artesia regained the lead when Ornelas, the team’s leading scorer, recorded her second assist when she found junior forward Icseel Ortiz who scored her ninth goal of the season. Artesia scored twice on only four shots in the first half while the defense limited the Sailors to only two shots before halftime.

“Anytime you get a goal early, it’s a big advantage for us,” Marquez said. “It set the tone. We kept working the whole game. I thought we started well in the first 10-15 minutes, and then we lost our middle and that’s where [Marymount] took advantage. We made some adjustments and we kind of settled down. That’s a good team over there. You have to give them credit. They have some good players.”

The game turned sour for the Pioneers (19-9-4 overall) in the 68th minute when senior midfielder Jenny Gomez left the game with a right knee injury in which she told Marquez she heard it pop. Five minutes after Gomez left, the Sailors tied the game when Frances Watne took advantage of sophomore goalkeeper Cyndie Trejo leaving her post and taking a high shot which bounced over Trejo and into the net.

Then moments into the overtime session, sophomore defender Victoria Sanchez took an elbow to her face and left with a fractured nose and concussion. She would be attended to by paramedics and did not play against South Torrance, as well as Gomez.

The 19 victories are one more than the program won two seasons ago when Artesia went 18-5-1 and the Pioneers finished in second place in the Suburban League for the second time in three seasons. If Artesia upsets the Spartans, it will host Serrano or visit Quartz Hill on Tuesday in the semifinals.

“If somebody told me we would be 19-4-4 and advance to the quarterfinals of CIF, not that I didn’t believe in my team, but I would probably lose a lot of money if that was the case,” Marquez said. “The biggest difference this year is the chemistry on this team. We’re like a family.”


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