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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Coaches named for 605 football classic

Two of the CIF Southern Section’s most successful coaches over the past
two seasons have been selected to head the East and West teams for the
41st Annual 605 All-Star Football Classic.
The game is scheduled to be played Saturday, June 7th at Cerritos
Long Beach Poly’s Raul Lara will guide the East team. Lakewood High’s
Thadd MacNeal will lead the West squad.
Lara’s Jackrabbits won the CIF-SS Pac 5 Division championship in
December. It was Lara’s third CIF-SS championship team in four years. He has
been the Jackrabbits’ coach since 2001.
MacNeal just completed his second season at the Helm for the Lancers.
This season, Lakewood lost to Poly in Moore League play, 13-6, the
Jackrabbits’ closest victory of the season.
MacNeal is 10-2 in Moore League play and his team has finished second to
Poly the past two years.
Schools represented on the East team are Artesia, California, Cerritos,
Cypress, Fullerton, Gahr, John Glenn, Kennedy, La Habra, La Mirada, La
Serna, LB Poly, Los Alamitos, Los Altos, Mayfair, Norwalk, Pioneer,
Santa Fe, St. John Bosco, St. Paul, Sonora, Whittier and Whittier

West team players are from Bell Gardens, Bellflower, Long Beach
Cabrillo, Cantwell, Carson, Compton, Dominguez, Don Bosco Tech, Downey,
El Rancho, Garfield, Lakewood, Long Beach Jordan, Long Beach Wilson,
Lynwood, Millikan, Montebello, Paramount, Schurr, St. Anthony, South
Gate, Cerritos Valley Christian and Warren.

Just wondering: Is the June 7 date too early or late in the summer/ Or would it be better suited for an early August date?

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The week ahead …

Whittier Christian High School’s girls basketball team and four
area soccer teams are still alive in the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
Whittier Christian defeated Villanova Prep, 48-30, Saturday night for
the opportunity to play for a second consecutive division championship.
The Heralds will face Alpha League mate Maranatha for the Division
V-AA title. The game will be played either Friday or Saturday at the
Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.
The day and time is expected to be announced Wednesday.

Soccer semifinals are scheduled Tuesday.
In girls action, La Mirada will host Santa Monica in Division III,
and La Serna will take on visiting Bishop Montgomery.
In a boys game matching two area teams, Del Rio League champion El
Rancho travels to play Freeway League champion La Habra.

Baseball and softball teams begin the season with nonleague action

It’s time to make your preseason predictions.

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Who are these guys?

St. Paul High School, boys basketball.
Season record: 20-9.
Camino Real League: 7-3, second place
CIF Southern Section, Division IV-A:
First round – 70-56 over Whittier Christian
Second round - 75-46 over Flintridge Prep
Quarterfinals – 53-52 over Joel John Scholastic Academy
Next opponent: Semifinals, vs. Cerritos Valley Christian
Roster: Seniors – 1; Juniors – 8; Sophomores 3
Starters: Seniors – 0; Juniors 3; Sophomores 2
Nos./Names: 2 Dont’e Webb, 3 Willie Duff, 10 Jerome Orbita, 11 Steven
Saenz, 13 Edgar Rodriguez, 15 Jacob Garcia, 21 Hector Anaya, 22 Michael
Calderon, 31 Kevin Garcia, 33 Matthew Mata, 42 Paul Lopez, 44 Adrian

Super stars: None.
Marquee players: None
Players 6-4 /taller: None

Who ARE these guys??

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CIF-SS playoffs, two weeks old, 16 locals still alive

Nine boys teams, seven girls teams will continue to compete in the CIF-SS postseason tournament.

Tuesday’s games:
Boys basketball
Div.Girls I-AA: Dominguez at La Mirada.
Div. II-AA: La Habra at Murrieta Valley.
Div. III-AA: Campbell Hall at Montebello; Schurr at Oak Park.
Div. IV: St. Paul at Joel John School.
On paper at least, toughest test ahead: La Mirada hosting Division No.1 seed. Montebello, a close second with No. 1 seed Campbell Hall.
Most mysterious foe: Joel John School, listed in the CIFdirectory as a coed enrollment of 45 students and a member of the International League.

Boys soccer:
Div. III; Century at La Mirada; La Habra at Santa Maria; El Rancho at Walnut.
Div. IV: St. Margaret’s at St. Paul.

Wednesday’s games:
Girls basketball:

Div. III-AA: Marlborough at St. Paul.
Div. V-AA: Whittier Christian at La Reina.

Girls soccer:
Div. III: La Mirada at Garden Grove Pacifica.
Div. IV: California at Paloma Valley; Oxnard Pacifica at La Serna.

Girls water polo:
Div. III: Whittier vs. Ayala, (site to be determined, but possibly Chino Hills HS).
Div. VI: La Habra vs. Sunny Hills, at William J. Woolett Center, Irvine, 3:30 p.m.
NOTE: How tough is the Freeway League?
Three of the four semifinalists (No. 1 seed La Habra, No. 3 seed Sonora, and Sunny Hills) are from the league.

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Taking It Up A Notch

While I was taking in last Wednesday’s boys basketball playoff game between Cal-Hi and South Hills, Condors football coach Jim Arnold, the reigning WDN Coach of the Year, dropped off this year’s finalized Cal-Hi football schedule.

It seems that the Condors have lopped off a couple of easy teams in favor of some stiffer competition.

I spoke to Coach Arnold yesterday and he felt the Condors’ preseason could stand to be a little more challenging, prompting him to make changes.

Check out Thursday’s paper for more of Arnold’s comments.

Anyway, here’s the schedule. I thought it was interesting that both Arnold and Pioneer coach Ramon Juarez felt the need for a nonleague upgrade.

Basically, the Condors dropped Bassett and Buena Park in favor of La Mirada and Pacifica.

How do you think the Condors will fare this season? How does a coach walk the fine line of scheduling challenging squads without burning out his kids before league? When is a schedule too easy or too tough?

2007 Nonleague Schedule**
09/07 v. Rowland (8-3)
09/14 at El Monte (4-6)
09/21 v. Bassett (1-9)
09/28 at Schurr (10-4)
10/05 v. Buena Park (1-9)

Overall Record (24-31)

2008 Nonleague Schedule*
09/12 at Rowland (3-8) Friday, 7 p.m.
09/19 at La Mirada (4-7) Friday, 7 p.m.
09/25 v. Pacifica (10-3) Thursday, 7 p.m.
10/02 v. Schurr (8-5) Thursday, 7 p.m.
10/09 at El Monte (5-5) Thursday, 7 p.m.

Overall Record (30-28)

Bold Indicates Upper Division Opponent
* 2007 Records
** 2006 Records

Remaining Del Rio League Schedule

10/17 at El Rancho, Friday, 7 p.m.
10/23 v. Pioneer, Thursday, 7 p.m.
10/31 v. Santa Fe, Friday, 7 p.m.
11/07 at La Serna, Friday, 7 p.m.
11/14 v. Whittier, Friday, 7 p.m.

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