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Artesia unable to finish off Mayfair, trails first place by four points


By Loren Kopff

The Artesia boys soccer program has been the best in the Suburban League over the past three-plus seasons, going 31-0-3 since it last lost a league contest to Bellflower on Jan. 26, 2011. But winning a fourth consecutive league crown is going to be much harder this season with a younger squad.
With the Pioneers chasing Bellflower for the top spot in league, they missed several scoring chances against Mayfair last Friday and ended up tying the Monsoons 1-1. Artesia had won seven straight against Mayfair but more importantly, it ended the first round of league action four points behind Bellflower. The Pioneers entered this week with a 10-5-5 overall record and 3-0-3 in league.
“It’s been like that a lot because we don’t have the experience up top,” said Artesia head coach Rudy Magallon. “The chances are there. We just have to put them away.
“We had the breaks. We just didn’t put it in,” he continued. “In the first half, we had five or six clear chances.”
Artesia struck first just three minutes into the game when senior forward Anthony Serrano fed a pass to freshman forward Jorge Pantoja who notched his fourth goal of the season, third in league action. After that, the Pioneers put pressure on Mayfair goalkeeper Chris Van Putten eight more times in the half but came away empty each time.
In the 16th minute, Serrano received a pass from Pantoja but his shot barely went off to the left side if the net. Five minutes later, freshman midfielder Francisco Sierra sent a pass to Pantoja whose header was saved by Van Putten.
Then in the 58th minute, a shot from Sierra went off to the right side of the net and three minutes after that, a shot from senior defender Ari Claro hit the crossbar and his rebound was saved by Mayfair’s other goalie, Anthony Oseguera.
With time running out on the Monsoons, the Pioneers thought they had preserved the victory when senior midfielder Hernan Hernandez cleared a potential tying goal. That resulted in a corner kick which led to Jeremy Monroe tying the game in the 78th minute.
“They’re going to make a push because they need the equalizer,” Magallon said. “They got the opportunity to put it away. If you make a mistake and leave them wide open, they’re going to put it in the net.”
Artesia totally dominated the 20-minute overtime session, getting off seven shots to none from Mayfair. The best chances in the extra session came in the 86th minute when Sierra sent a pass to sophomore forward Steven Espinosa, who couldn’t get a clear shot on goal. Then with three minutes remaining in the game, Claro took an indirect kick from four yards outside the penalty box. But his shot was saved by Oseguera. In all, Artesia took 20 shots on goal while the Monsoons took eight shots.
The Pioneers began the second round of league action this past Wednesday against last place Cerritos and will visit La Mirada today. The league title could be on the line Monday when Artesia hosts Bellflower. The first time around, those two teams played to a scoreless tie. Artesia will also host John Glenn on Wednesday. Artesia has been league champions six times in the past 16 seasons, finished in second place five times during that same time and in third place four times since 1998.
“I don’t know if they’re catching up [to us],” Magallon said of the league. “In high school that’s the way it is. Everyone is going to play us hard. For the past 20 years, it’s been Artesia and three more, or two more in the playoffs. They want something that we’ve had for the past three years.”