The first time the La Serna and California High girls soccer teams met, there were three red cards and several missed chances in a 0-0 tie on Jan. 7 in the Del Rio League opener.
Both teams enter today’s 3:15 p.m. game a lot stronger than the first time they met. Here’s the small advance we had into today’s paper.
When the La Serna and California high school girls soccer teams meet in today’s Del Rio League grudge match at California at 3:15, each side might be unrecognizable from those that tied 0-0 on Jan. 7 to open league play.
The Daily News No. 2-ranked Lancers (7-5-3 overall, 4-0-1 in league) entered that home match at perhaps their most vulnerable point in years. La Serna began the 2010-11 campaign with four consecutive losses and was 2-5-2 when it met California.
“I think everyone expected us to be a finished product, and that wasn’t fair,” Lancers coach Tessa Troglia said.
“We had a brand new back line playing together and were working on unity issues.”
Since that tie, however, the Lancers have rounded into form by winning five games in a row and outscoring opponents 15-4.
In comparison, the Lancers scored 15 goals through their entire nonleague schedule while surrendering 14.
Perhaps the most impressive win during the five-game stretch came on Saturday, when the Lancers knocked off Division 3 top-ranked Granite Hills 2-0 behind goals from Moriah Earley and Natasha Witzel.
“Their coach talked up all these big wins, wins over Division 1 teams,” Troglia said. “We didn’t say anything. I think they might have looked at our record and were not ready for us.”
The Lancers are scoring and defending much better, but they aren’t forgetting the last time they played California.
“We dominated that game on both sides but couldn’t finish,” Troglia said.
“While I’m pleased with how we’re playing, we still have to finish.”
California also has grown since the teams tied.
The No. 4-ranked Condors (9-7-1, 3-1-1) walked into the Jan. 7 contest with a 6-6 mark and confidence issues.
“I think the tie gave us a lot of confidence,” California coach Brian Bordier said.
“We didn’t win, but we didn’t lose, and hung with them.”
The tie also was important because the Condors were routed in the North Orange County Classic tournament a week earlier. They finished 0-4 and were outscored 8-0.
“At that point, I’m not sure the girls had an idea how competitive the league would be,” Bordier said. “Now we’re at the halfway point and you can see the league is pretty well-balanced. We’ll have our chances. The question is if we’ll take them.”