By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Los Altos High School girls soccer coach Chris Reeder wasn’t sure what to expect in the newly formed Hacienda League, which combined former Miramonte League powers Los Altos and Bonita with Walnut, which had won four consecutive San Antonio League titles.
Add a team like Diamond Bar from the Sierra League, and what you have is a playoff atmosphere every week.
Reeder hopes it pays off for the CIF-Southern Section Division 3′s eighth-ranked Conquerors when playoffs start next week. There have been many close games, but Los Altos has been the most consistent in its durability. It won another grind-it-out game on Tuesday at Diamond Bar, 2-1, and clinched at least a share of the league title with a chance to win it outright on Thursday against Walnut.
“I told the girls that we’re basically in an eight-game playoff,” Reeder said. “We have our last three Hacienda League games and five games in the playoffs to win a championship.
“The game against Diamond Bar tonight is what playoff games are like.
“You score early and you pray that you can hang on. But against good teams, and Diamond Bar’s a very good team, sometimes you can’t hold on forever.”
After Los Altos’ Lauren Stupin headed home a long cross in the 40th minute to give the Conquerors a 1-0 lead at halftime, Diamond Bar kept pushing forward and got the equalizer in the 65th minute on a long throw-in Bianca Balassi converted in front of the goal.
Balassi nearly put the Brahmas in front minutes later when her shot caromed off the crossbar in the 73rd minute. That proved costly because the Conquerors went ahead for good four minutes later when Amy Shubin’s corner kick to the back post found Sarah Becerra, who headed home the game-winner for the victory.
“I saw it coming,” Becerra said. “I just went after it. They (Diamond Bar) played great, they kept fighting.
“But we kept fighting, too. We really wanted league.”
Los Altos improved to 17-3-4 overall and 10-1 in league. The third-place Brahmas dropped to 13-7-1 and 7-3-1.
“What I’m most proud of is after they scored and almost scored again, we came back in the final minutes and got the win,” Reeder said.
“That’s what you look for as a coach, how your team is going to react in a situation like that, and we reacted well. I’m very proud.”
Diamond Bar won just one game in the Sierra League last year. Brahmas coach Matt Brummett was disappointed with Tuesday’s result, but he also was pleased they pushed the eventual league champions to the final minutes.
“Two more inches inside the post we got a goal and we could be talking about a league title possibly,” Brummett said of Balassi’s missed opportunity off the bar late in the second half. “But we have come a long way. We talked at the beginning of the season about a culture change and to finish third, which is where we likely will finish and make the playoffs, the girls deserve a lot of credit.”