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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW : La Mirada boys soccer denied multiple times in late stages of key game with Mayfair

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

LAKEWOOD-When you’re down a goal in the second half of any soccer game, that sense of urgency to tie is magnified 10 times. Such was the case for the La Mirada High boys soccer team as it travelled to Mayfair High this past Tuesday.

The Matadores spent the final 25 minutes or so of the contest in frantic mode, searching for the equalizer which never came. And instead of staying on the heels of Suburban League-leading Norwalk High and second place Bellflower High, La Mirada succumbed to Mayfair 1-0, leaving the league in a tight five-game race.

The lone goal came in the 57thminute when a wide-open Samuel Chukwurah launched a shot from the right side of the field and into the left part of the net. After that, La Mirada had opportunity after opportunity to tie the game, but to no avail.

“That’s soccer, to some degree,” said La Mirada head coach Philip Yovino. “You can control the game, you can possess the game and in one moment, maybe a moment of brilliance on their part or maybe an effort goal and all of a sudden you find yourself in a hole. I thought our fight was good. That last 10 minutes we created three full chances.”

Both teams combined for seven shots in the first half with the best chance for a goal coming three minutes before halftime when a shot from Mayfair’s Tristian Saenz hit the crossbar and bounced straight down in front of freshman goalkeeper Ryan Moreno-Rojas. Three minutes into the second half, senior midfielder Julian Pineda hit the Mayfair crossbar.

In the 67thminute, a header from junior defender Eric Plascencia off a free kick from junior midfielder Seth Ponce sailed just above the left corner of the net. Then with three minutes remaining in regulation, a header off senior defender Donovan Carreon goes barely above the crossbar. The final chance to tie the game came with 10 seconds remaining when a hard shot from junior midfielder Abel Avendado was saved by the Mayfair netminder.

“They’re always a gritty opponent and I think their athleticism is always dangerous,” Yovino said of Mayfair. “Even in our team talk, the guys don’t feel like they got beat. But at the same time, they didn’t do enough to earn a victory. I think throughout the season, we’ve been looking for somebody to step up and give us a little bit of quality.”

La Mirada, which entered the contest as the eighth ranked team in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 poll, fell to 12-5-3 overall and 2-3-1 in the league while Mayfair improves to 7-13-3, 2-4-0. The Matadores, who were shutout for the second time this season, faced Firebaugh High on Jan. 30 and will end the regular season on Tuesday against Norwalk High, both games being played at John Glenn High. Entering action on Jan. 30, La Mirada was a half a game ahead of Firebaugh and Mayfair for third place and the final automatic playoff berth.

“We’ll see,” Yovino said. “This kind of performance is not going to get it done. So, hopefully we can turn the corner. It’s still in our hands. If we win out, we’re in.”

In other boys soccer action with playoff or league title implications, Artesia High visits Oxford Academy today with a chance to move closer to its second straight 605 League title. The Pioneers are 12-3-3 overall and 6-0-1 in league action. Artesia will host John Glenn High on Monday with the league championship at stake and will travel to Pioneer High on Wednesday to conclude the regular season. 

Glenn and Pioneer enter today tied for second place with identical 4-2-1 league marks. Glenn (5-7-3 overall) hosts Whitney High today before ending the regular season at Oxford Academy on Wednesday. 

Cerritos High is also in the mix as the Dons travel to Pioneer today before hosting Oxford Academy on Monday and Whitney on Wednesday. Cerritos is 5-11-2 overall and 3-3-1 in the circuit. 

Gahr High, which is 5-13-0 overall, is sitting in fourth place in the San Gabriel Valley League, a game behind Warren High as it hosted fifth place Lynwood High on Jan. 30. The Gladiators (3-4 in league) visits Warren on Monday before hosting Paramount High on Wednesday.

Norwalk, ranked fourth in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 poll, was on top of the Suburban League with a 4-0-1 mark, 13-3-1 overall. The Lancers visited Bellflower on Jan. 30 and will conclude the regular season against La Mirada on Monday and at Mayfair on Wednesday.

Another league leader is Valley Christian High, which sits on top of the Olympic League. The Defenders (12-2-3, 5-0-1) hosts second place Heritage Christian High (4-0-1 in league) tonight before ending the regular season Tuesday at Whittier Christian High. 

Whitney (6-8-1, 1-5-1) would need to win its final three 605 League contests and get a lot of help in order to claim a playoff spot. The Wildcats go to second place Glenn today, host third place Pioneer on Monday and travel to fourth place Cerritos on Wednesday.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Gahr dropped a 50-49 decision to Dominguez High this past Tuesday night to fall to 14-11 overall, 3-4 in the SGVL. The Gladiators are sitting in fourth place, a game behind Warren and will host Lynwood tonight before travelling to Warren on Tuesday. The regular season ends on Thursday with a home game against Paramount. 

Valley Christian may be sitting in fourth place in the Olympic League and not catch Maranatha High for third place, but the Defenders (18-7, 1-5) should be a lock for an at-large berth. They are ranked fourth in Division 3A as they visit Heritage Christian tonight and host Whittier Christian on Tuesday.

Whitney’s 55-40 loss to Artesia this past Wednesday in a fourth place battle dropped the Wildcats to 8-15 overall, 2-5 in league play. Still, the team is a game out of third place as it hosts last place Glenn tonight before going to Pioneer on Monday and entertaining Cerritos on Wednesday.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Valley Christian is still alive for third place in the Olympic League as it visits last place Heritage Christian tonight. The Lady Defenders (11-14, 2-4) enter tonight a half game behind Maranatha will also host Whittier Christian on Tuesday.

Whitney (10-13, 5-2) comes into tonight’s home game against Glenn tied for second place with Pioneer, whom it plays on Monday. The Lady Wildcats also host Cerritos on Wednesday.

GIRLS SOCCER

Cerritos can clinch no worse than a tie for the 605 League title with a victory over Pioneer today. The Lady Dons are 9-4-3 overall and 7-0 in the circuit and have not lost a 605 League contest in almost two full seasons. Cerritos visits Oxford Academy on Monday and Whitney on Wednesday.

Valley Christian has already wrapped up another Olympic League title as it has posted four shutouts in six on the field league games. The Lady Defenders, ranked second in Division 5, are 11-2-2 overall and 6-0 in league action as they go to Heritage Christian today before hosting Whittier Christian on Tuesday.

Whitney should be a lock for third place in the 605 League as the Lady Wildcats are 12-5-0 overall and 4-3-0 in league play. They will host Glenn today, visit Pioneer on Monday and welcome Cerritos on Wednesday.

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