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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Artesia boys soccer wins wild affair against Mayfair to move in first place tie


By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


LAKEWOOD-The Artesia High boys soccer team has spent the entire season either at the top of the Suburban League or chasing La Mirada High. But now, those two teams played for the league title on Feb. 8 and one common opponent had a huge part of that.

Last Friday, Mayfair High defeated La Mirada 1-0, thus giving Artesia a chance of playing for what it hopes will be its final Suburban League crown. Artesia then went and took care of business by holding on for a 5-4 win at Mayfair this past Tuesday. The Pioneers, ranked 10th in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 3 poll, improved to 17-6-1 overall and 9-2 in league play. La Mirada, which lost to Norwalk High 2-1 to begin league action on Dec. 18, had won nine straight league contests before the loss to Mayfair.

Artesia was putting pressure on the Monsoons very early in the contest as in the fifth minute, junior forward Sammy Valle took a free kick that went to sophomore forward Alejandro Romero. However, Romero’s shot clanked off the left post and out of bounds. But seven minutes later, the Pioneers went up 1-0 when sophomore midfielder Jose Aguilar received a pass from senior midfielder Sergio Flores and launched a long shot past Mayfair goalkeeper Omar Navarro.

It remained that way until the 34th minute when Mayfair’s Nicholas Guardado tallied twice in a span of six minutes to put the hosts up 2-1 at the break.

“We went up 1-0 and I thought we played well,” said Artesia head coach Octavio Marquez. “We maintained possession of the ball in the first 20-25 minutes. I think we were dominating but we just kind of got relaxed at times defensively. I don’t think we were very disciplined in defending in the last 15-20 minutes [of the half].”

During the 10-minute halftime session, Marquez preached to his team not to change what had been working in the first part of the game. Whatever he said seemed to work as the Pioneers came out blazing and it started with Aguilar scoring off another long shot eight minutes into the second half. Then he completed a hat trick, followed by a Flores goal and another one by Aguilar as Artesia was up 5-2 about midway through the second half.

But the Monsoons refused to go away that easy and scored a pair of goals on set pieces within the final 15 minutes, the first on a cross and the second on a penalty kick. Had Mayfair won, it would have set up a possible scenario where four teams could have been sharing the league championship with 9-3 league marks. As it turned out, now it was a winner-take-all story at Artesia on Feb. 8. La Mirada defeated Artesia 4-0 on Jan. 12, the fourth time this season that the Pioneers had not scored.

“After the first round, we had a loss against Norwalk and…we told the kids that we still have a shot at the league title,” Marquez said. “We kind of knew that La Mirada would go down along the way even though they’re a good team and they had been playing well. We had a feeling that someone was going to tie them or beat them, and Mayfair was able to do that last Friday. We told the kids that it’s one game at a time.”

In other boys soccer action, two other area teams will be advancing to the playoffs. Norwalk, which ended the regular season with a 4-1 win against Bellflower High this past Tuesday, is 14-6, 9-3 and can either be tied for second place with the loser of the Artesia-La Mirada game, or claim this place should that game end in a tie.

Valley Christian High played its second straight tie game, this one a scoreless affair at Whittier Christian this past Tuesday to move to 7-7-4 overall and 3-1-3 in the Olympic League. The Crusaders visited Heritage Christian High on Feb. 8 and a win could mean a share of the league title should Maranatha High lose to Village Christian High, or second place to themselves.

In girls soccer, Valley Christian wrapped up its second straight Olympic League title and eighth in the last 10 seasons with a 4-0 win at Maranatha last Friday and a 9-0 win against Whittier Christian this past Tuesday. The Lady Crusaders (18-3-1, 5-0) are ranked third in the Division 4 poll and have blanked their last three opponents and 13 for the season.

Cerritos High is the only other girls team advancing to the playoffs. The Lady Dons (11-8-2, 7-3-1 in the Suburban League) crushed Norwalk 5-0 last Friday and John Glenn High 9-0 this past Tuesday and will finish in third place.

In boys basketball, Artesia has clinched at least sole possession of fourth place in the Suburban League despite falling to Mayfair 59-55 this past Tuesday. The Pioneers are 15-10, 5-6 and visited La Mirada on Feb. 8.

Gahr High knocked off Paramount High 55-43 this past Tuesday, then defeated Long Beach Cabrillo High 71-43 the next night to move to 12-13, 4-5 in the San Gabriel Valley League. The Gladiators would have needed to beat Downey High on the road on Feb. 8 to apply for an at-large berth.

Valley Christian has won four of its last five games including a 64-59 decision against Whittier Christian this past Tuesday. The Crusaders improved to 17-8, 4-3 in the Olympic League and hosted Heritage Christian on Feb. 8 with second place on the line.

In girls basketball, Gahr beat Paramount 65-43 this past Tuesday to move to 11-12, 4-5 and needed a win over second place Downey on the road put itself in position to apply for an at-large berth.

Whitney High has stumbled as of late but crushed Calvary Chapel Downey High 54-13 this past Tuesday to move to 16-10, 7-4 in the Academy League. The Lady Wildcats hosted St. Margaret’s on Feb. 8 in their final Academy League game.