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CFC Liverpool’s indoor debut ends on down note

By Loren Kopff

LONG BEACH-A week after the Cerritos Football Club Liverpool 15-Under soccer team won a beach tournament, it went indoors a few miles away from the sand to go where it had never been before. Playing futsal, or indoor soccer, for the first time, the Liverpool got out to a roaring start.
But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and the Liverpool lost its last two games in the 28th annual United States Futsal National Championship, held at the Long Beach Convention Center. Last Saturday afternoon, the Liverpool had a lackluster performance against the (Maui) Po’okela 97 and lost 4-1, thus ending any chance of playing for the championship in the 16-Under age group.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t come out to play the way we know how to play,” said Liverpool head coach Joul Farah. “We were watching a lot and it was very disappointing. I know we’re much better than them. But that’s part of life; that’s part of soccer.”
The game remained scoreless until Nikolina Musto scored on a rebound off a blocked shot with 32 seconds remaining in the first half. Cerritos was outshot 16-7 in the half and wouldn’t get much offense going in the second half.
Musto scored 12 minutes into the second half and seconds later, Sarah Reyes iced the game. The last goal from the Po’okela came with six minutes left in the game off the foot of Makena Robinson. The Liverpool avoided the shutout when Sabrina Gonzalez (Troy High School) received a pass from Meagan Gruber (Long Beach Wilson High School) and dented the back of the net with four minutes remaining. The Liverpool took another seven shots in the second half and Kayla Rivas (Long Beach Poly High School) had to make 11 saves in the game.
“The sad thing about [this loss] is the team we played yesterday is much stronger than this team,” Farah said. “They’re a year older than us and much better and we lost 8-6 after making a huge comeback.”
He was talking about an 8-6 setback to the Slammers Futsal last Friday afternoon. The Liverpool was down 4-0 in the first 14 minutes of the game before Gonzalez put her team on the board two minutes before halftime. Trailing by four again early in the second half, the Liverpool woke up and scored three straight goals in a span of three minutes. Tara Kazimi (Downey High School) scored twice and Lana Hudson (Long Beach Poly High School) added another in the rally.
But Cerritos was unable to tie the game as the Slammers gained two-goal leads three times in the final six minutes of the game. Kazimi would score her team’s final two goals in the final five minutes and the Liverpool was outshot 30-19 in the game,
“It wasn’t surprising that we were coming back like that because I know what kind of team I have,” Farah said. “That’s what it boils down to. If we would have played [today] the way we played in the second half [yesterday], it would have been a blowout. We would have met the [Slammers] in the finals.”
Kazimi began the tournament last Friday morning with four goals as the Liverpool blasted the Gilroy FC 13-0. Gonzalez, Gruber, Hudson and Marlene Palafox (St. Joseph High School) all added a pair of goals as Cerritos peppered Gilroy for 50 shots in the game.
“It was a great experience for the girls to see what is out there,” Farah said of playing in the five-on-five indoor tournament. “You can tell that the girls who have the skills and quickness can handle it. It’s a lot quicker and you really have to understand the game.”
The Liverpool will begin the new season on Thursday and will move up to compete in the 16-Under age group.