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GIRLS SOCCER – Cerritos scores late in toughest challenge this season to pull away from Gahr

December 8, 2022

By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

Possession is nine-tenths of the law and in soccer, if you don’t have much or any possession in your opponent’s end of the field, chances are you’re not going to get opportunities to score. Gahr High found out the hard way this past Tuesday afternoon when it visited Cerritos High the annual non-league tilt between the two teams.

Cerritos kept the ball on Gahr’s end for more than 50 percent of the second half and the Gladiators took one shot on Cerritos junior goalkeeper Sofia Arancibia after halftime. The result was a 4-2 win by the host Dons that left them sitting at 3-0.  

“When we’re really on, that’s kind of the way it is,” said Cerritos head coach Robert Adams. “The first 25 minutes of the game we’re like that as well, except for the opportunity that they took and scored near the end of the half. Possession wasn’t our issue. You have to have possession with purpose though, and a lot of our possessions in the middle of the game wasn’t in a positive movement. So, we weren’t moving forward well enough with our possessions.”

“They outworked us,” said Gahr head coach Martin Henry. “We definitely died out there in the last 20 minutes or so. We had nothing left.”

The lone shot for the Gladiators in the second half came in the 47th minute off the foot of junior midfielder Kylie Perrey courtesy of a free kick, who was able to arch her shot high and behind Arancibia in the upper left corner of the net. Her goal tied the game, and it remained that way until the 61st minute when Cerritos junior midfielder Tatianna Chavez notched her team-leading fifth goal of the season.

Any chance the Gladiators had of making a furious attempt to tie the game ended when sophomore midfielder Sophia Ucros took a pass from sophomore forward Denise Gutierrez and scored her first goal this season. It was also the last of 23 shots taken against sophomore goalkeeper Gabby Cortez. 

“We’re very much a ball-controlled team,” said Adams. “And when we play on fields that are less than ideal, which our field is less than ideal…this was our first game that was not on turf, and it’s a much larger field than we’re used to playing on, which I like. 

“But we didn’t adjust very well to that,” he continued. “We hurt ourselves in possession a little bit. Luckily the girls have a lot of character and propped themselves back up, got everything under control, kept the whole momentum moving forward and eventually we were able to put enough touches together to get a couple of goals to get ahead.”

Not much was going on for either team in the first half, especially for the Gladiators who took three shots. The game’s first goal didn’t come until the 31st minute when Cerritos senior midfielder Julianna De La Cruz scored off a rebound for her third tally in three games. Then with a minute remaining in the half, senior midfielder Genesis Mendoza took a long shot that reached the upper left corner past Arancibia. 

It was the first goal of the season for Gahr, which was blanked 3-0 by another area powerhouse team, La Mirada High, in its season opener on Nov. 29.  

“I think we’ve been pretty good; I really do,” said Henry. “I think we can be very good. Right now, we’ve had a lot of injuries [and] we’ve had a lot of people with the flu. So, we’re really banged up right now.”

This was one of the better contested Cerritos-Gahr games all-time. Since 2004, the Gladiators have defeated Cerritos once, which came in 2007 by a score of 2-0. The teams tied the 2019 contest and for the most part, the Dons have won by either one or two goals. Also, the six combined goals this past Tuesday were the most in the rivalry since Apr. 1, 2021, a 4-3 Cerritos victory.

“We happen to be on the winning side of it a lot, which is great,” said Adams. “But it’s a true rivalry game. A lot of the girls know the other girls and it always seems to be really close. It doesn’t seem to go easy.”

“It’s intense; it always is,” said Henry. “Both teams go in really hard, but they’ve had the upper hand and they’re a good team. They always seem to just have that edge.”

Both teams will participate in the Best in the West Winter Classic on Saturday with Cerritos facing Laguna Hills High and Sierra Vista High at Laguna Hills while Gahr will play Crean Lutheran High, then Immaculate Heart High later in the morning. Those games will be played at Crean Lutheran. Besides the tournament games, Cerritos hosted Portola High on Dec. 8 and will visit Paramount High on Tuesday while Gahr visits Valley Christian High on Tuesday before hosting St. Joseph High on Thursday.

“I think the 605 League is improving,” said Adams. “We needed to improve as fast as possible. Until the 605 League does improve a little bit more, then we need to schedule these types of [non-league] games in order to make sure that we’re ready for whatever happens if we’re fortunate enough to get to the postseason.”