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605 LEAGUE BOYS SOCCER – Artesia dominates pesky Whitney squad but only scores two goals

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

April 16, 2021

The Artesia High boys soccer team has dominated the brief existence of the 605 League, going 19-0-1 heading into this season, outscoring its opponents by an astounding 103-13 margin. Tack on a 3-1 win against Cerritos High on Mar. 30 and it’s clear to see that the Pioneers are still the favorites to make it three for three in the new league.

Don’t tell that to Whitney High, which tied Artesia 2-2 last season and entered this past Tuesday’s game having knocked off Cerritos and John Glenn High, two playoff teams from last season, by a combined score of 7-1. Artesia head coach Octavio Marquez knew his team was in for a battle, and for the most part, it was. Despite peppering Whitney senior goalkeeper Salvador Ortiz for 22 shots, the Pioneers couldn’t generate much in the goal-scoring department, winning 2-0 to improve to 3-2 overall this season.

“I told our guys, knowing coming into the game because we tied them here last year,” Marquez said. “And it was close, just like today. They went up; we were lucky to get a late tying goal. We should have lost last year. They have some scrappy players; they work hard and they play hard. You have to give them all the credit because their goalie kept them in the game, obviously. It could have been easily 6-0 or 7-0.”

“We didn’t even know if we were going to have a team,” said first-year Whitney head coach Juan Luis Arevalo. “Just in the beginning, it was hard. [Whitney administration] asked if I was willing to take over the boys [team] and myself and [assistant] coach Jorge [Flores] said we would take on that challenge.”

Whitney isn’t fielding a girls team this season, but a quartet of girls are playing with the boys, including sophomore midfielders Ella Centeno, Koa DeLeon and Dalia Luckhardt, all of whom started against the Pioneers. The fourth is freshman forward Kasmine Brar. Arevalo said he didn’t know that Cerritos and Glenn went to the playoffs last season and he thought those teams took the Wildcats for granted because of the four female players. Whitney has six sophomores and four freshmen as part of the 18-member team

“I guess [Artesia] got a little scouting report on what we do and they came in and gave us a challenge,” Arevalo said. “Again, we have a new team; they haven’t even played together for more than a month.

“It was little bit of convincing to the boys,” Arevalo continued about having the four girls on the team. “Once they saw them playing and they saw that they were up to par to them, it was like having a sister on the team for them. I tell them that we’re equal and think about it as your sister. We have to protect them a little bit more. Their play speaks for themselves. It gives us hope of what’s coming next year on the girls’ side.”

Artesia took 10 shots on goal in the first half while the Wildcats got off only one shot. In the eighth minute, Artesia junior midfielder Jose Gudino saw his shot kicked away by Ortiz and 10 minutes later, a free kick from junior defender Miguel Rodriguez just outside the penalty box sailed high of the crossbar.

The Pioneers kept the pressure going as in the 28th minute, Ortiz deflected a shot to his right off the foot of senior midfielder Bryan Gudino and three minutes later, a point blank shot from sophomore defender Alejandro Robles was saved by Ortiz. Throughout the game, Artesia’s passing was nearly crisp as passing lanes would constantly be open. But as players would approach the penalty area, players would be out of position for a pass that could have led to a goal.

“That’s what we’ve been struggling with all year,” Marquez said. “That last third [of the field] is something we’ve been struggling with. We have five seniors, but for the most part, I start mostly sophomores and juniors. It’s just getting that understanding within the goal to be patient [and] find that passing lane. We try to force too many things, or we lose the ball because we try to dribble too much because we panic.”

The Pioneers would finally find the back of the net three minutes before halftime as Bryan Gudino muscled his way through the Whitney defense, avoiding what may have been a foul called on a Whitney player to deposit a goal through the left side of the net.

“He actually told me he miss-hit it,” Marquez said. “He didn’t mean to go to that corner; he meant to go to the opposite side. So, whatever, a goal is a goal, and you have to give [Gudino] credit. He kept with the play; he didn’t give up.”

In the 56th minute Ortiz, who ended with eight saves, blocked a shot from sophomore forward Ivan Navarro and on the rebound back to him, the follow-up shot went above the net. The second Artesia tally was by Navarro, whose shot trickled in at the left post.

“He had three or four chances earlier, so he was able to get ahead on it and it hit the post and went in,” Marquez said of Navarro. “I was happy for him. I thought he played a good game up there; he worked hard and pressured [the defense]. I was happy for him to get that one.”

“We’re lucky that we have a good goalie and usually having a good goalie is half the battle in soccer,” Arevalo said. “We live and die with our goalie and like I said, our team is young and we got outplayed and outhustled a little bit. I think 2-0 is a good score for us.”

Artesia will host Pioneer High today at Fedde Middle School before visiting Glenn on Tuesday while the Wildcats visit Pioneer on Tuesday.