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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Cerritos girls soccer end semifinal drought to edge Don Lugo, advances to rare semifinal

February 16, 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter 

For the longest time, the knock on the Cerritos High girls soccer program was that it could not get past the first round of the CIF-Southern Section divisional playoffs. The Dons had lost 16 consecutive playoff games until 2019 when they fell to Palm Desert High in double overtime in the second round.

Now, Cerritos has done something the program had not achieved since 1992. Backed by a tenacious defense that bent a little but did not break, the Dons held on to defeat Don Lugo High 3-2 this past Tuesday in a Division 4 quarterfinal game. Cerritos will visit El Rancho High on Friday for the right to play in its first divisional championship game since 1992.

“This group of kids has figured out a way to just gut out the really tough wins in between competitive games,” said Cerritos head coach Robert Adams. “We did a really good job through league, making it through that, and our non-league contests towards the end of league season really helped out.”

“It’s a really good feeling knowing that I’m a part of this and being able to be a part of this team just means a lot to me,” said senior midfielder Kristin Mijares. “I definitely felt the connection better throughout the years. I feel once we started to get comfortable with each other, we just started to progress on the field and off the field.”

Top-ranked in the division, Cerritos improved to 22-0-2, the most wins for the program in over 26 seasons. In fact, the last time Cerritos had won 18 games was during the 1997-1998 season.  

The Dons dominated the eighth-ranked Conquistadors from the beginning and through the first 25 minutes of the game. Three minutes in, sophomore forward Denise Gutierrez got loose on a breakaway but saw her shot stopped by Kyra Mangini. In the next minute, she did the same to junior midfielder Cayla Oliveira.

The constant pressure continued, even when junior midfielder Tatianna Chavez appeared to have been tripped in the penalty box, but no call was made. Chavez would get that first goal three minutes later with the assist going to Mijares. In the 19th minute, Gutierrez would have another shot stopped, but she would make it a 2-0 contest five minutes later with her 22nd goal.

“I think what’s happening is that we’re very fortunate we have very good players and they’re very athletic, and our athleticism, because it’s not in one or two spots, it’s very difficult to mark us on one or two positions,” said Adams.

Cerritos’ stout defense, which had posted 16 shutouts and yielded nine goals all season, would be tested for the first time in the 28th minute when Eden Ramirez found herself with an open net opportunity, but her shot clanked off the left post. The Q’s ended the shutout bid two minutes later on a goal from Jordyn Beidler.

The eventual game winner would come in the 37th minute when Oliveria took a pass from Mijares and launched a shot that went through just under the crossbar. The fact that the Dons scored that third tally was somewhat significant because no team had scored more than two goals against the 605 League champions all season.

“I was thinking that the girls were playing in a really good rhythm for us and as long as we could attack and keep moving forward like that; if we could grab another goal, we could start getting some of our players off the field and get some other players on the field,” said Adams.

Even though Ramirez redeemed herself in the 67th minute to make it 3-2, Cerritos continued to keep the heat on. The speed of the Dons is what helped them pepper Mangini for 24 shots on goal, 13 of them she saved.

The one-goal decision was the second of the postseason and third of the season and Cerritos has now scored 126 goals. In contrast, El Rancho (17-5) has scored 73 goals, given up 28, posted eight shutouts and been involved in five one-goal decisions. The winner of this game will face the winner of the Serrano High-Western Christian High contest.

In other girls soccer action, Valley Christian High fell to Serrano High 2-1 in another Division 4 quarterfinal game. The Defenders, who won another Olympic League title, conclude the season at 19-5-1.


Artesia High, which entered the playoffs on a 14-game winning streak, then knocked off Newbury Park High in the Division 3AA first round, lost to fourth-ranked Buena High 66-56 last Friday, ending its season at 22-8.

Cerritos, on the heels of a 51-40 win over Ocean View in Division 3A action, came up short against Newport Harbor High in a 51-46 defeat last Friday. The Dons wrapped up their season at 14-16.

La Mirada High, the third-ranked team in Division 2A, beat Walnut High 79-69 last Saturday to advance to Friday’s semifinal home game against Pacifica Christian High/Orange County. Both teams enter the contest with 23-8 records.


Gahr High went to Coachella Valley High this past Wednesday and knocked off the 11th-ranked Mighty Arabs 61-41 in a Division 5AA quarterfinal game. The third-ranked Gladiators (24-6), in the semifinals for the first time since 2013, will host 10th-ranked Marina High on Saturday. Sophomores Jody Colbert and Christine Ho each led the way with 12 points while senior Lauren Teramoto pitched in with 11 points. 

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