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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW : Cerritos girls, Valley Christian boys soccer squads fall in extra session of wild card games

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter


LA PALMA-For a change, a Cerritos High girls soccer team had a lead in a California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section playoff game. In fact, the Lady Dons, who had lost 15 straight playoff games and not won a postseason game since 1997, had a two-goal lead.

But Cerritos was the victim of poor officiating and surrendered a last-minute goal in regulation to Kennedy High, then another one three minutes into overtime to fall to the Fighting Irish 3-2 this past Tuesday in a Division 4 wild card game. Cerritos is now 11-24 in playoff games.

“We executed really well,” said Cerritos head coach Robert Adams. “We just weren’t able to hold off the multiple chances. Kennedy definitely has a method that they use to be effective and it’s not one that we handle particularly well.”

Cerritos grabbed a 1-0 lead five minutes in when senior forward Kavitha George scored on a pass from sophomore midfielder Kassidy Valtiera on the game’s first shot. It would be one of two shots for the Lady Dons (11-10-2) in the first half.  George would put her team up 2-0 in the 53rd minute when she found the left side of the net wide open. After that, it was all Kennedy, and some help from the officials.

Halfway through the second half, Hailey Jamir connected on a penalty kick that went just to the right of Cerritos sophomore goalkeeper Shelby Dykes. Then the Lady Dons thought they had clinched the game in the 70th minute when junior forward Erika Rizal’s follow-up on a miss from Valtiera at the left post was waived off because the linesman on the Cerritos side ruled Rizal was offside.

“When a shot goes all the way to the goalkeeper, it’s impossible for anybody to be offsides if the goalkeeper is on their own line,” Adams said. “When the center referee made his claim, he flat told me that there was no way he was going to overrule his lineman even if he understood the rule, which clearly the side lineman did not.”

Then, in the final minute of regulation, Shareen Singh tied the contest on a header from a corner kick that should not have been a corner, according to video footage from a Cerritos spectator. The Irish kept the pressure going in overtime as one minute in, Vanessa Preciado’s shot hit the crossbar. Two minutes later, she would net the game-winner on a pass from Jamir.

“I don’t think it’s fair to judge the referees based on what they think they see,” Adams said. “Where I’m very disappointed in the referees and where I think soccer falls far behind the other sports in officiating is that the manner in which that team did not work together. So, they’re not a unit that works together; they don’t converse the way basketball referees do or the way that football referees do.”

Division 6 Boys Soccer Wild Card

                                    South Pasadena 2, Valley Christian 1 (PK)


The host Crusaders had a first half lead before the Tigers got the equalizer early in the second half. Then a second chance in the final round of penalty kicks didn’t go V.C.’s way.

The Crusaders had four shots on goal the entire game with the first coming six minutes in when junior forward Kurtis Vander Muelen saw an opening only to have South Pasadena goalie Jack Gallager punched it away.

“The boys stepped up and brought it,” said V.C. head coach Andy Anderson. “I believe they’re able to play the game depending on what the other team brings. [South Pasadena] brought the physicality and I think we matched it.”

Following an 11-minute delay due to an injury to a South Pasadena player junior midfielder Derek Murray scored his first goal of the season on a header to give the hosts the early lead. It stayed that way until the 50th minute when Tianho Wei tied the game.

“He sits in the six for us and is probably the best guy in the air for us defensively,” Anderson said of Murray. “We use him for corners and throw-ins to get his head on the ball as well. He’s gotten his head on a couple of them all year, but this one was obviously his biggest one.”

V.C. got one shot in the second half and another in overtime but in penalty kicks, tied it at 1-1 on Murray’s tally in the middle of the net. But the Tigers scored on their first three attempts and were looking for the win until freshman defender Brendan Fletchall kept V. C. with a goal to the left

After Jeff Donlevy’s attempt in the fourth round was blocked away at the right post by freshman goalkeeper Trevor Hayes, junior midfielder Greg Pappachristos had a second chance on his attempt when Gallager moved off the line early on the first try. But the second attempt of saved, which ended the game.

The Crusaders end the season at 8-8-4 but began the campaign at 2-5-1 before turning it around in the last month and a half to finish in second place in the Olympic League.

“Preseason is a time for growth for us; it is every year,” Anderson said. “Most of our preseason standings are never that great. We try to be patient and take it game by game, step by step to build our team.”

Three other area schools get set to begin their playoff treks. The Artesia High boys team, which finished in a tie for second place in the Suburban League with Norwalk High, hosts Rio Mesa High today in Division 3 action. The Pioneers went 16-8-1 in the regular season and are ranked ninth in the division.

Norwalk, which advanced to last season’s Division 4 semifinals, hosts La Serna High today in a first round contest. Norwalk went 14-6 in the regular, has won five in a row and seven of its last eight games and are ranked 10th in Division 4.

The V.C. girls team goes for a second straight divisional championship as it hosted Highland High on Feb. 15. The Lady Crusaders, ranked third in Division 4, won last season’s Division 6 title and wrapped up the regular season at 19-3-1, Olympic League champions and winners of 12 straight games. In addition, V.C. has 15 shutouts and has yielded four goals during the winning streak.


Artesia saw its season come to an end with a narrow 50-48 loss at Segerstrom High this past Wednesday night in a Division 4AA first round game. The Pioneers, who trailed 42-31 entering the fourth quarter, finishes the season at 16-11.

V.C. also fell in its first round road game. The Crusaders fell to La Serna High 54-30 this past Wednesday night in a Division 2A contest and finished the season at 17-11.


Norwalk, the third place representative out of the Suburban League, visited Arroyo High on Feb. 15 in a Division 4A first round contest. The Lady Lancers went 13-11 in the regular season.

In Division 4AA action, Whitney High travelled to Don Lugo High on Feb. 15 for a first round game. The Lady Wildcats entered the contest at 17-10 and finished in third place in the Academy League.