_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________


CIF-SS DIV. 5 GIRLS SOCCER PLAYOFFS – Records fall as Cerritos slams Montebello in first round of playoffs


February 17, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

There hasn’t been much success in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs for the Cerritos High girls soccer program. In 41 playoff contests since their first trip in 1985, the Dons have won 12 times entering last Saturday morning’s Division 5 home contest against Montebello High.

Cerritos had breezed through another 605 League slate, winning all eight games, four of which officially counted towards the league standings, and did not yield a goal. However, head coach Robert Adams didn’t feel like his team’s 12-2 thrashing of the Oilers was like another league game.
“No, I didn’t,” said Adams. “Obviously, we adjusted because we don’t plan for a situation where we’re going to have a dominant situation. But we still have to prepare for the playoffs and everything like that. So, when it’s your league games and you’re looking at other programs, and again, Montebello is a good team that has up years and down years…they have some good players and we need to practice against those players.”

Cerritos annihilated the school record for most goals scored in a playoff game as the most the program had ever scored was five, accomplished in a 1991 second-round game against Santa Clara High (5-0). The win over Montebello was the second time in the past four seasons the program had reached the second round and the fifth time in school history.

The onslaught began early as two minutes in, senior midfielder Persephone Diep scored on a pass from sophomore defender Olivia Mendoza. Five minutes later, junior midfielder Kristin Mijares assisted on freshman midfielder Makayla Quesada’s first of two goals and just like that, the rout was on.

In the ninth minute, junior midfielder Vivian Lopez netted the first of her two goals and three minutes later, Diep made it 4-0 with sophomore defender Jaylah Allen getting the assist. Mijares would score in the 16th and 21st minutes and Quesada added the team’s seventh goal in the 23rd minute.

“We have depth and in a year like this where Covid can come into play without notice, what we worked on mostly was expanding our flexibility,” said Adams. “We have some move-ups from [junior varsity]. We were certain because of the situation able to get them quite a bit of playing time where they haven’t ever; they haven’t played with the varsity group at all. We did get a lot of rest in, too. We didn’t have to because of the weather conditions.”

The only blemish in the first half came in the final seconds when Amber Castro converted on a penalty kick. It marked the first time since Dec. 18 that the Dons had given up a goal. It was also the 13th goal in 19 games allowed by the Cerritos defense. Castro would also score on a free kick in the 74th minute.

“We’re moving around and Montebello is a good enough team,” said Adams of his defense. “They have enough talent where if you make mistakes, they’ll punish you. We take it moment to moment and the core of our team…what allows us to be the way that we are is our backs.”

Cerritos made it 8-1 six minutes into the second half when Lopez weaved her way through the defense and released a shot that bounced off the left post in. Sophomore midfielder Cayla Oliveira got in the action 10 minutes later when her shot bounced off the crossbar and in. The final three goals came in the final 10 minutes of the contest-junior Julianna De La Cruz from Oliveira in the 70th minute, Quesada in the 76th minute and De La Cruz seconds before the final whistle was blown.

The Dons peppered Montebello netminder Beatriz Hernandez for 31 shots but from here on out, they will be facing tougher competition as every possible opponent will sport a winning record. Cerritos hosted Palm Springs High this past Wednesday and fell 3-2 in overtime. The Dons conclude their season at 15-2-3.

In a season where the offense (125 goals) was just as stellar as the defense, which yielded 14 goals and had a dozen shutouts, Mijares and Quesada have been the two leaders Adams can always count on. Mijares leads the team with 27 goals and 18 assists while Quesada is second with 18 goals and third in assists with 13. They have become one of the best scoring tandems in program history.

“It really works all the way across,” said Adams. “That’s just the terminal parts. They end up being goals a lot because…Kristin gets the run on the backs; she’s an extremely talented player. Makayla, because of her work rate, draws attention, which opens them both up. They’re certainly strong together. They definitely know where each other are and they’re both willing to work to get to the spots that they need to be in.”