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CIF-SS D-7 GIRLS SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP-Remigio kicks Artesia into school history as Pioneers end decades of frustration

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

Her freshman season at Artesia High is still not over but it’s safe to say that defender/midfielder Briana Remigio just took her biggest shot of her young soccer career, and the biggest shot in school history. With just under five minutes left in the second overtime period against Maranatha High in last Friday night’s CIF-Southern Section Division 7 championship game, Remigio booted a penalty kick through the right side of the net for the only tally in a 1-0 win.

It’s the first girls soccer CIF championship in school history and comes two years after the program won just five games. The Pioneers will now host Bernstein High on Tuesday in the first round of the CIF Southern California Division V Regionals with a potential semifinal game on Thursday against either Bell Gardens High or Mar Vista High, leading up to the finals on Saturday. Bernstein defeated Stern High 5-1 last Friday in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division IV championship game.

“I’m very happy that we made it very far and I’m just super excited that I won this for everyone,” said Remigio. “Not only for myself, but for my whole team, my family and for my friends who are always here to support me.”

“This is a lot of years of hard work and a lot of struggles,” said Artesia head coach Hugo Umana. “But you know, trust the process. Trust the process.

“I feel that we’ve always played the best soccer in our league, and we’ve always played the right way,” he later said. “Again, it’s trusting the process and continuing despite maybe having some bumps in the road, but we still persevered. The system worked and we continued to this day and it’s what we have right now.”

Artesia (19-3-3), which had dominated the scoring chances throughout much of the contest, took one shot on goal in the first overtime session, which was a free kick from the 19-yard line by freshman forward/midfielder Kamila Salazar after Ella Klop was issued a yellow card. Still scoreless after 90 minutes, the teams switched sides and the Pioneers took two more shots, which were saved by Mia Madarang.

But with 4:49 left before the game would be decided by penalty kicks, sophomore forward/midfielder Yuliana Ortiz was pushed from behind in the penalty box and Umana summoned Remigio to take the penalty kick.

“I was just very, very nervous,” said Remigio. “My chest had this very heavy feeling in it. Coach wanted me to take it and I knew that I could not fail him. I always practice [shooting towards] the right, so why change it up?”

The Pioneers, ranked 10th in the division, controlled the first 30 minutes of the contest, both in field possession and shots taken. The second place team from the 605 League peppered Madarang for half a dozen shots, four of which she saved. Meanwhile, the Minuteman, ranked fourth in the division, didn’t take their first, and only shot of the half, until the 31st minute. That would come off one of two corner kicks they would take.

Artesia continued to attack the Maranatha defense in the second half and took four more shots while the Pasadena visitors finally began to get into more of an offensive mode. In the 60th minute, Klop took a shot from the left side that clanked off the far post. That would be the best chance the Olympic League’s third place team would get in the game. The next best chance came with six minutes remaining in regulation when Maddie Knott’s long range shot from the right side barely missed the upper left corner of the net. Knott would account for four of the team’s five shots taken.

“It’s kind of the story of our season where we dominate, dominate, dominate, but sometimes we struggle to put [opponents] away,” said Umana. “That was the case in this game. But, if you look at the statistics, each game that we scored in, we’ve won. So, statistically speaking if we score, we win.”

After no fouls were called against either team in the first half, Maranatha was called for its first of 11 fouls in the 45th minute while the Pioneers first infraction, which was a hand ball, was called five minutes later. They would be whistled seven times in the second half, the first four coming in a 10-minute span.

“I think the refs did a great job; they’re the best refs we’ve had all season,” said Umana. “I think the difference on their end was they were tired. I think we were prepared, and it started from the summer running cross country with the team itself. So, we were fit. Our strength and conditioning group prepared us for this as well.”

The Artesia girls soccer program began in the 1996-1997 season and the next season, it went 11-9-0 but finished in fourth place in the former Suburban League. At that time, only the top three advanced to the playoffs. The Pioneers finally made their playoff debut during the 2008-2009 season and finished 10-10-2. After that, the program went through seven straight winnings season, advancing to the playoffs each time, including a quarterfinal appearance in the 2012-2013 season.

However, the program went the opposite direction after former head coach Octavio Marquez stepped down to take over the boys soccer program following the 2015-2016 season. Artesia would go through four losing seasons and missed the playoffs four times since then. This season, the Pioneers posted 17 shutouts, four by 1-0 scores and all three losses were by a combined 10-0 score with all three ties ending scoreless. Two of the three losses came to league champion Cerritos High.

“Last year we missed the playoffs, and we actually had a decent team last year,” said Umana. “But things didn’t happen the way [we wanted]. But I really feel things happen for a reason because we have a new, revamped group this year. We have eight freshmen and six sophomores, four juniors and one senior.”

“Since the very beginning, even coach [Umana] said that he knew there was something special with this team,” said Remigio. “I have a lot of trust in him, and I felt like he was right. Also, I want to thank all the staff that pushed us and helped us and also our families who are always supporting us.”