GIRLS SOCCER: La Serna’s title hopes dashed in 2-1 overtime loss to Downey


No Title: La Serna’s Jen Reed stands dejected after Downey defeated the Lancers 2-1 in overtime in the CIF-SS Division 5 championship game at Mission Viejo High School on Saturday. (Keith Birmingham / Staff Photographer)


By John Sherrard
MISSION VIEJO -
The third time was a charm for Downey High School’s girls soccer team.
Downey, twice a runner-up, defeated La Serna, 2-1, in sudden-death overtime in the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 championship Saturday morning at Mission Viejo High.
The Vikings lost last year’s title game to Desert Christian of Lancaster and in 2008 to Oaks Christian.
Downey (18-7-4) qualified for the Southern California Regionals, which begin Tuesday.
The winning goal was scored in the 85th minute by sophomore midfielder Maritza Acuna.
She picked up the loose ball and got by the defense and easily put it past La Serna goalkeeper Penny Roman.
“It’s so great, so great,” Downey coach Rachel Godfrey said. “It’s so good to score and it’s over. The third time was a charm for us and we made history for our school with our first championship.”
San Gabriel Valley League champion Downey scored only six minutes into the second half on a long kick by senior forward Claudia Lopez. The ball sailed just over the head of Roman.
Trailing 1-0 late in the second half, La Serna rallied to tie the score in the 69th minute.
Freshman forward Elizabeth Fernandez passed the ball to senior defender Savannah Francis, who scored over Downey goalkeeper Adrianna Salazar into the left corner. Francis, who is right-footed, scored with her left foot. Francis, headed to UC Santa Barbara in the fall, was moved up to play forward late in the first half.
“We worked hard as a team and I felt like we could’ve definitely won this game,” Francis said.

Del Rio League champion La Serna (20-6-4), the No. 4 seed, spent most of the first half in Downey territory, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Lancers junior midfielder Jordann Sanders had a chance in the 7th minute on a nice cross from junior forward Moriah Earley. Sanders attempted a header just in front of Salazar, but the ball sailed high over the crossbar.
La Serna controlled much of the offense in the first half, but in the second half the Lancers had numerous attempts off corner kicks that they couldn’t convert.
Sanders and Earley couldn’t connect for the Lancers throughout the game and after the game the two juniors reflected on what could have been.
“We’ve been (playing) together since we were 8 years old,” Sanders said. “Having all the pressure on us was overwhelming, but you have to block everything out and play with heart.
“It seemed like more and more when they were getting control (in the second half) it seemed like we were letting down a little.”
Earley was fed constantly on many passes, but couldn’t get through the Downey defense.
“It was a little frustrating,” Earley said. “It comes down to us working together and we played as individuals when they scored. It doesn’t work without the team.”
“We weren’t finishing our scoring chances,” La Serna coach Tessa Troglia said. “It put a lot of pressure on all of our players and we were able to move the ball and keep pressure on.
“We outplayed them, that’s for sure, but I guess you could say (Downey) outworked us.”
La Serna was making its first CIF-SS title-game appearance since winning the championship in 2008.

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  • Sports Fan

    Congrats to the Lady Lancers for a fantastic season. It’s unfortunate that it did not end in a championship but as it is with sports, there can only be one champion in the end. Congrats to Downey for their first girls soccer title in school history.

    The game was definitely a battle. La Serna and Downey have two different styles of play, La Serna being more technical and playing that possession style of soccer while Downey plays over the top and tries to pressure the defense into mistakes.

    La Serna had a lot of chances off corners and free kicks, but unlike its previous rounds, were unable to take advantage of its chances.

    Downey did a very good job of disrupting the Lancers offense by just kicking the ball away and not messing with it. La Serna was better technically and athletically but Downey took advantage of crucial moments and got the W. (And thats what matters).

    The area better be ready next season because La Serna is not going away and could very well be better than this seasons squad. 5 seniors graduate (2 starters) but will return 10 key players, including its top 3 scorers (two of them freshman) and get two very good players back from injury.

    Congrats to all the area teams and players this season. Its been a great season and hopefully it will be another successful one next year.