La Mirada Looks to Slew the Beast

The Matadores have a tremendous undertaking in the second of two area girls soccer championship games, going against juggernaut Mayfair.

Girls Soccer
Division III Championships

Unranked La Mirada (18-8-5) vs. No. 1 Mayfair (26-2-3)
at Warren High School, 8 p.m.

Initial Thoughts: Yikes! I know the championship game is supposed to be challenging but wow. It almost seems unfair to La Mirada, which had to pull off three different upsets to get here.

Why La Mirada will win -
Everybody loves an underdog and that’s what La Mirada is. The Matadores are not the same team that lost twice to Mayfair 5-1 and are playing their best ball of the season. As has been seen throughout the playoffs, different Mats have stepped up with big plays during their postseason run. It’s going to take a total team effort to win this game.

Why Mayfair will win -
Ultimately, the Monsoons just expect to reach the title game every year as this is their third straight visit. You can point to just about any position and Mayfair has strong talent. The Monsoons have been known to take it easy at times and relax but that’s not likely in the championship game.

La Mirada X-Factor:
The Mats need to score early and hold onto a lead. They need to be able to put some pressure on Mayfair. If they fall behind, they can’t give up either.

Mayfair X-Factor:
Talent. Whether it’s crisp passes or laser goals, the Monsoons are just difficult to beat. They do have a lot of size on La Mirada and will likely win the war in the air.

The pick: I hope La Mirada proves me wrong, but Mayfair 4-1.

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La Serna Looks For First Title

In the first of two local girls soccer championship games, La Serna looks to add its first title in school history.

Girls Soccer
Division IV Championships

No. 3 La Serna (25-3) vs. No. 4 Granite Hills (20-5-2)
at Downey High School, 4 p.m.

Initial Thoughts: Will anyone score in this game? The Cougars have posted eight shutouts over their last 10 games. La Serna has only given up three goals over the last 15 games.

Why La Serna will win -
The Lancers are a better all-around team. It’s like the old saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Despite back-to-back 1-0 wins, La Serna dominated both La Salle and Bishop Montgomery, last year’s Division IV champion and runner-up, in the previous two rounds. La Serna is also one of the better passing teams in the division and will get plenty of good looks before the day is done.

Why Granite Hills will win -
There might not be a better coach in the division than Granite Hill’s Mike Bradbury. The Cougars just missed reaching the divisional finals last year and return with another young but strong team. Granite Hills knocked off No. 1-ranked Serrano just to get to the title game. This was the same Serrano team that pasted them 4-0 earlier in the year. What I like about Granite Hills is that they’re not afraid to take chances. And that’s what it’s going to take to win. Somebody is going to have to really challenge La Serna goalie Nicole Godinez.

La Serna X-Factor:
Just play your game and finish your opportunities The Lancers take an awful lot of shots for the number of goals they actually connect on.

Granite Hills X-Factor:
Lock-down defense. The Cougars smothered Serrano’s big star Kauren Tarver, who was the focal point of the offense. Expect the same defense on Nicole Reed and Jordan Dolbin.

The pick: This was the toughest of all three but I’m going to go with La Serna, 2-1.

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Boys Soccer Finals

Okay Soccer Fans,

We’ve got a boys championship game. Here’s my breakdown and the pick. I hope to see a large crowd out there tomorrow.

Boys Soccer

Division III Championships
No. 3 La Habra (25-4-1) vs. No. 1 Saddleback (25-2-1)
at Downey High School, 2 p.m.

Initial Thoughts: This is a great offensive matchup between two teams that score about three goals a game. The postseason run has been challenging for both teams as La Habra has won three one-goal games while Saddleback has clinched two.

Why La Habra will win -
Don’t let the one-goal differential fool you, the Highlanders have been clearly in charge in three of their four playoff wins. They were up 3-0 over Nogales before the Nobles scored two cheap goals. The Highlanders also blasted Santa Ana Valley 4-1 in the quarterfinals and had solid control of a 2-1 win over El Rancho. Against Santa Maria in the second round, La Habra showed grit in coming back on the road for a 3-2 victory.

Why Saddleback will win -
The Roadrunners are 1 of 3 top seeds to advance to finals, showing that they can deal with the pressure. While the talk of offense is prevalent, this is a Saddleback defense that has posted 10 shutouts in its last 12 games and has not given up more than two goals in over a month.

La Habra X-Factor:
Defense. Pure and simple. If the Highlanders can hold Saddleback to two or fewer goals, they increase their chances at a win big time.

Saddleback X-Factor:
Cashing in opportunities. I guess this could apply for La Habra as well. However, Saddleback had quite a few solid looks against Santa Ynez and Fullerton, but only came away with 1-0 wins, albeit, against great defenses.

The pick: I’m rooting for La Habra but I’m going with Saddleback 3-2.

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Local soccer playoff times

Four area high school soccer teams reached the CIF Southern Section playoff semifinals and three of them advanced to Saturday’s championship finales.
It might have been all four had not two of the locals played each other in the semifinals.

In boys soccer, Division III, La Habra will play No. 1 seed Saddleback at 2 p.m. at Downey High school. The Highlanders advanced at the expense of Del Rio League champion El Rancho, defeating the Dons, 2-1, Tuesday.
In girls soccer, Division III, La Mirada will play a familiar opponent in Mayfair at 8 p.m. at Warren High School. La Mirada and Mayfair are members of the Suburban League. Mayfair defeated the Matadores twice in league play.
In Division IV, Del Rio League champion La Serna will take on Granite Hills at 4 p.m. at Downey High School. La Serna is the division’s No. 3 seeded team . Granite Hills is the No. 4 seed.

Combined with Whittier Christian’s game against Maranatha for the Division V-AA championship in girls basketball at 9:30 a.m. at The Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, dedicated local sports followers could make a day of it by attending all four events.

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Heralds get 9:30 a.m. start time

Whittier Christian’s defending CIF champion girls basketball team will play Maranatha for this year’s Division V-AA title at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at The Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.
The teams are members of the Alpha League, and have played twice this season. Whittier Christian won both games by scores of 41-34 and 37-24.
Admission ticket prices for the game are $9 for adults, $5 for students with I.D. and $5 for children.
Parking at The Pyramid is $5.

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