_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________         EBOOK


605 LEAGUE GIRLS SOCCER: Cerritos battles Artesia like good old times from Suburban League, posts another shutout

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


When they were situated in the Suburban League, Artesia High and Cerritos High would always have some of the best battles in girls soccer. While both would always be chasing La Mirada High and Mayfair High in the standings, the final automatic playoff spot, whether it was for third place or fourth place, would go to either the Lady Pioneers or Lady Dons.

Now that they’re in the 605 League, the battle, at least early on this season, seems to be for first place and Cerritos has the advantage, edging Artesia 1-0 last Friday evening on the road. Both teams entered the contest undefeated in three league games.

“Obviously Artesia played really well and did a great job,” said Cerritos head coach Robert Adams. “And, we had a tough time with that, which is great. That will help both of our teams a lot.”

“I think they were really excited about today’s game because it was kind of like a league-title game,” said Artesia head coach Valerie Blomquist of her team. “It was at home, under the lights and there was a lot of excitement around it. They were ready to play.

“It was a pretty intense game,” she continued. “It’s always a fun matchup against Cerritos, especially being a cross-town rival. So, we’re feeling it; we’re feeling the loss.”

Cerritos, which entered the contest ranked sixth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 poll, now owns a 21-17-5 advantage since 1998. However, the Lady Pioneers had dominated the series since the 2007-2008 season, winning 15 of 23 games. And even though this was only a 1-0 decision, the Lady Dons showed why they have now posted six straight shutouts and nine on the season following a 3-0 win against Oxford Academy this past Tuesday.

Cerritos (11-2-4, 5-0-0) yielded only one shot on goal, and that came in the 12thminute when senior midfielder Alenna Velazquez took a shot that was just to the left of the net. After that, not much would come from Artesia’s offense.

“We knew it was going to be a tight game and when it’s like that, there’s not a ton of opportunities,” Blomquist said. “We just didn’t necessarily take advantage of the ones that we had. The shots we had weren’t necessarily on frame. And, they’re just a tough team.”

Five minutes later, the Lady Dons scored the only goal they needed when junior forward Jayda Anusasanananta tallied her 10thgoal this season off a pass from senior midfielder Erika Rizal. Cerritos, which took five shots on goal in the half, had a chance to go up 2-0 with less than a minute remaining before halftime. But a free kick taken by freshman midfielder Persephone Diep was saved by Artesia senior goalkeeper Julia Calderon at the upper right corner of the net.

“I do think that we fall into a little bit of a trap of coming out of an uneven contest and into one of these,” Adams said. “We’re not well-prepared to go into one of those. Now, neither is Artesia. So, that puts us both in the same sort of situation. I’m very happy that we were able to do what we did today.”

The best chance for Cerritos in the second half came in the 52ndminute when Anusasananta raced through the left side of Artesia’s defense and fired a shot that merely landed on the side of the net. The Lady Dons finished the game with nine shots.

“It’s really her aggressiveness,” Adams said oh his leading scorer. “I think her quickness in her turn is where her strength lies. She is really, really good at that. She’s very good with both feet, very quick and aggressive and really our most complete forward.”

The Lady Pioneers, who would rebound for a 4-0 win against Pioneer High this past Tuesday, improved to 8-4-4, 4-1-0. But heading into the Cerritos game, they had won six straight games after beginning the season with four straight ties. The eight victories are already two more than the entire output from last season when that squad finished 6-13-3. Also, Artesia has now outscored its competition 44-15.

“I have a really great group of girls,” Blomquist said. “I’ve had a great group of girls every year, but this year, I have [10] seniors, and so, they’re just really motivated to make this a winning year for themselves.”

“In those [tie] games, we actually had a lot of opportunities,” Blomquist said. “We were getting our shots off. Again, attacking through the wings, which is where we have our strength…and finally, when we started getting those wins, it was kind of like a floodgate open. We started to finally kind of get that last connection and it’s been beautiful to watch when it happens.”

Cerritos is a little bit better with 68 goals scored and 14 given up as the program is at least four wins away from the program’s first league title since the 1997-1998 season.

“Our defense…Iris Lee and Bianca Bowen are absolutely the most dependable players that we’ve had in the back in quite some time,” Adams said. “Julia and Asha; the four of them…what it is, is four years of tremendous amounts of experience that are sitting in the back like that.”

The second half of league action kicks off today with Artesia hosting Oxford Academy before visiting Whitney High. Those two teams are battling for third place. Meanwhile, Cerritos travels to Whitney today and will go to last place John Glenn High on Tuesday. And if there was any doubt to who might be the best two teams in the league when the season ends at the end of the month, Artesia and Cerritos have outscored their other four league foes by a combined 74-0 advantage.

“I take it absolutely one game at a time,” Adams said. “Coach [Brittany] Barr and I as a coaching staff, we have to be able to develop a deeper bench and be able to have trust within the whole team and get more numbers playing per game and get some of those players included. We have good players across the board.”

“I just think we have to bring the intensity,” Blomquist said. “The girls are feeling this loss, but we talked about showing up [to practice] on Monday and it’s not over. It’s just matching their intensity; making sure our passes are on. At the end of the day, it’s in our hands and yeah, they’re a great team. But, I 100 percent think we can beat them. It would have been nicer to have done it on our field. But, we will have no problem doing it at theirs.”