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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW : Norwalk boys soccer crushes Gahr with another defensive gem

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


Vinson Pluma is in his 16thseason as head coach of the Norwalk High boys soccer team, but has never had the start that the Lancers are having so far. When Norwalk shutout Gahr High 6-0 last Thursday, it propelled the Lancers to an 8-0-1 start, the best the program has seen since beginning the 2006-2007 campaign at 11-2-0.

“As you know, team chemistry changes with the loss of one or more players and over time,” Pluma said. “So, preseason is needed to evaluate the kind of team we have. With four tough preseason games left on the schedule, we should be prepared for an interesting [league] season. Our young players are talented and have experience, so we are enjoying the experience and hope for the best.”

Norwalk, ranked third in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 poll, jumped on board in the 14thminute when senior forward Benjamin Gonzalez converted a penalty kick that skipped through the left side. Four minutes later, senior forward Daniel Felix made it 2-0 and with 11 minutes remaining in the half, the Lancers tacked on their third tally on a header from senior midfielder Devin Carcano.

With little offense being generated from Gahr (1-2-1), Pluma decided to switch his formations for the second half and was able to sub in and out more players. In the 47thminute, Carcano fed a pass to freshman forward Juan Carbajal, making it 4-0. Five minutes later, junior forward Abel Marin got into the action with his team’s fifth goal and junior midfielder Emiliano Segura closed out the scoring later in the half.

“During the game, we switch formations a few times depending on the players who are on the field or if we see an opportunity,” Pluma said. “At Gahr, they sat back, so we could pull out a defender and add another forward, which allowed us to give other players more field time.”

Not only has Norwalk not lost a game, it has posted six shutouts, four in a row, and only four goals have gotten past senior goalkeeper Leonardo Mondragon. The Lancers will visit La Serna High today, then travel to former Suburban League rival Artesia High on Dec. 28 before league play begins. Artesia is the second ranked team in Division 3.

“Our defense has been solid,” Pluma said. “All players have been promoted from last year’s junior varsity team except for [senior] Eric Lopez. All of our defenders are converted midfielders who can pass, control the tempo, play more than one formation and communicate well. Also, we have taller players who are good in the air on set plays. Height is a rare asset for us.”

The Gladiators, who dropped a 4-1 decision to Cerritos High on Dec. 18, will host Artesia on Thursday.

In other boys soccer action, Artesia (6-1-0) is home to Santa Fe High today before its meeting with Gahr while Cerritos (3-4) hosted Samueli Academy on Dec. 20. Cerritos will also face Marina High and Dominguez High on Wednesday in the Marina Tournament. On Thursday, the Dons will meet with Savanna High.

Valley Christian High (5-1-1) blanked John Glenn High 5-0 last Friday and will host St. Margaret’s High tonight before facing Crean Lutheran High and Ontario Christian High on Saturday in a tournament at Crean Lutheran.


Artesia (6-6) will host Garey High tonight before opening action in the Rancho Alamitos Tournament on Wednesday against Garden Grove High while Cerritos (4-8) fell to Cypress High 68-52 this past Tuesday and faced Downey High on Dec. 20 at Staples Center. The Dons will compete in the Orange Tournament beginning on Wednesday.

Gahr (7-6) lost to La Mirada High 68-64 in overtime last Saturday to wrap up its co-hosted tournament with St. John Bosco High. The Gladiators will face Jefferson High on Saturday in the Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary Tournament.

Glenn (2-11) travelled to Norwalk on Dec. 20 and will face Irvine High on Wednesday in the Rancho Alamitos Tournament. Also, in that same tournament is Norwalk (7-7), which opened that event against Anaheim High.

Valley Christian (4-6) lost to Whittier High 55-46 last Friday and will face Larchmont Charter High on Wednesday while Whitney High (3-9), which faced Pacifica High on Dec. 20, will face Jordan High on Wednesday in the first game of the Orange Holiday Classic.


Gahr (3-6) has not played since Dec. 8 but will host Glenn on Saturday, then face Claremont High on Wednesday to begin the Savanna Rebel Classic while Glenn (5-7) visits Edison High on Wednesday in the opening game of the Edison/Marina Tournament.

Norwalk (6-5) will face Roosevelt High on Wednesday to begin the Whittier Tournament and Pioneer High on Thursday while Valley Christian, which hosted Lakewood on Dec. 20, will also participate in the Edison/Marina Tournament.

Whitney (9-4) will play Marshall High before visiting Savanna High on Saturday.


Artesia (3-3-4) split a pair of Best in the West Tournament games last Saturday, then edged St. Joseph High 2-1 this past Tuesday. The Lady Pioneers will entertain Norwalk today. The only other area team that will be in action the rest of the month will be Valley Christian (4-3-0), which will entertain St. Margaret’s today, then face Crean Lutheran and Ontario Christian on Saturday in a tournament at St. Margaret’s. The Lady Defenders will then face Rowland High on Wednesday in the first round of the Ontario Christian Tournament.