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SUBURBAN LEAGUE GIRLS SOCCER: Cerritos, George show no mercy against young Artesia squad


By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


While the Cerritos High girls soccer program has been trying to get back into the upper half of the Suburban League where it had been situated in the earlier years of this century, the Artesia High girls soccer program has been trying to compete this season with a young team. Artesia lost seven players to graduation and another who transferred last season.

Both teams met last Friday afternoon with one loss in the circuit and couldn’t afford falling behind this early in the league schedule. On this day, the host Lady Dons put together a passing display led by their experienced players and blasted the Lady Pioneers 6-1. It was the widest margin of victory by Cerritos over Artesia since an 8-1 rout on Jan. 8, 2001. The win pushed Cerritos’ mark to 5-5-2 overall and 1-1 in league play.

“We’re getting much sharper and our midfield play improved a lot,” said Cerritos head coach Rob Adams. “Our distribution from the center [midfielders] is starting to pick up and when we can do that, and utilize the outside [midfielders], then we can get crosses across.”

Two minutes into the contest, junior forward Erika Rizal notched her second goal of the season. But the rout began nine minutes later when senior forward Kavitha George took a pass from sophomore midfielder Kassidy Valtiera and began what would be one of her better games this season. George would make it 3-0 in the 21st minute when she intercepted a pass deep in Artesia territory and got the ball past Artesia senior netminder Blanca Gambino. Then seven minutes later, George completed her first hat trick of the season when she took a pass from freshman midfielder Marisa Couto and scored her team-leading seventh goal of the season. Cerritos led 4-0 at the half on five shots while limiting Artesia (3-8-1, 0-2) to just two shots.

“Kavitha gives us that finishing ability up front because she’s so diverse in what she can do,” Adams said. “She’s really a midfielder playing forward and has an unbelievable amount of talent. Her and Erika are pairing up real, real well.”

One of the reasons why the Lady Dons were blanking the Pioneers, who have been shutout in six previous games this season, was the stellar job they were doing on senior midfielder Brittany Llanes. As the biggest scoring threat in Artesia’s lineup the past few seasons, Llanes was frustrated throughout the contest despite scoring her team’s lone goal. That game in the 62nd minute as she intercepted a bad pass from the Cerritos defense and shot from the right side of the field, only to see the ball clank off the far post and in. For Llanes, it was her second goal of the season, tied for the team lead with three other players. The Pioneers have scored 11 times this season

“She’s a tremendous player,” Adams said. “But as do a lot of high school teams, they find it necessary to play their better players in the middle. We are a team that tries not to play in the middle. By going around the outsides a lot, and doubling her up, which we haven’t had the ability to do in the past, it really frustrated her.”

With the Lady Dons clearly in cruise control, they spent the second half fine-tuning their play in the middle of the field, while not letting off the gas pedal at the same time. In the 68th minute, Valtiera scored her third goal with George getting the assist and two minutes later, Rizal scored her third goal as well, this one on a breakaway. Cerritos took five more shots on goal while the Lady Pioneers targeted sophomore goalkeeper Shelby Dykes four times in the final 40 minutes.

“The biggest thing that we were trying to work on is solidifying our center play because, for the first time, we have a couple of transfers,” Adams said. “And because we have those two transfers, it’s very important that…they haven’t played in a game with us. And now they need to mix in with the chemistry of our group that we have.”

Cerritos visited Bellflower High this past Wednesday and will host Mayfair High today and Norwalk High on Wednesday with a solid chance of staying on the heels of front-running La Mirada High. Artesia visited Norwalk this past Wednesday and will be home to La Mirada today and John Glenn High on Wednesday.

“We split with Artesia last year and got us into a tiebreaker and we were fortunate and got a win over Mayfair late in the year,” Adams said. “We don’t want to be in that situation and we feel like we can challenge basically any team [in the league].”