High School Softball Preview: La Mirada is confident of making run at title

The La Mirada softball team will be led by, from left, Lindsey Cole, Mercedes Gasparovic, Valerie Alvarado, Stephanie Baro, Christiana Viayra and Annie Dipillo. (Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

After posting a 12-0 record in the Suburban League and advancing to the third round of last season’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2 softball playoffs, La Mirada High School hopes to take the next step.

The Matadores, who finished 23-8 last season, lost key contributors such as pitchers Amber Hickman and Jenevie Rivas, catcher Lisa Perez, first baseman Rochelle Sablay and outfielder Mylee Macahilig to graduation, but they have plenty of returning talent.

That group includes senior third baseman Lindsey Cole, senior shortstop Mercedes Gasparovic and senior outfielder Christiana Viayra.

Cole, who batted .380 and drove in eight runs last season, will look to play a bigger role in 2013. Gasparovic hit .291 with two home runs and 18 RBIs. Viayra will seek to improve on her junior numbers, which included a .206 average in 45 at-bats.

Junior catcher-outfielder Annie Dipillo (.370, three home runs, 23 RBIs) also figures to play a vital offensive role.

With Hickman and Rivas gone, sophomore Valerie Alvarado and junior Stephanie Baro are in line to take over primary pitching duties. Alvarado posted a 4-1 record, 1.10 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings. Baro was 4-1 with a 1.58 ERA.

“We’re going to make a run at it this year,” La Mirada coach Rich Trujillo said. “We have a lot of confidence. We’re a little bit young. We had seven seniors last year, but we have juniors who are stepping right in.

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CIF-SS soccer championship game schedule has been announced: Both El Rancho boys and La Serna girls will play on Saturday at Warren HS in Downey

The CIF-Southern Section soccer championship game schedule has been posted at the CIF-SS website.  El Rancho High School, making its third consecutive final-round appearance, will face Channel Islands in the Division 3 boys soccer championship game at noon.  La Serna, headed to its second straight title game appearance, will take on Cabrillo of Lompoc in the Division 5 girls soccer championship game that is slated for 5 p.m.  Both games will be played at Warren High School in Downey.

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High School Boys Soccer: Cristian Roldan’s three goals lift El Rancho

By John Sherrard, Correspondent

SANTA ANA – The El Rancho High School boys soccer team still might be sprinting for joy after their dramatic playoff win Tuesday.

Senior forward Cristian Roldan was leading the charge the length of the field with his team in tow after scoring a golden goal in sudden-death overtime for a 3-2 semifinal victory at Century to send the Dons to their third consecutive CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title game.

Roldan, who has 53 goals this season, scored all three goals for the top-seeded Dons (25-2-1). They will face Channel Islands, which defeated Palmdale 5-4 on penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie in regulation. The CIF-SS office will announce the time and location of the game today.

“I was more relieved than anything,” El Rancho coach Dominic Picon said. “I didn’t want their season to be over and I know they wanted to avenge last year’s loss (in the CIF championship game).”

Roldan, headed to the University of Washington next season, scored on a set piece off a corner kick by senior midfielder Miguel Vilchis in the 87th minute. Vilchis had just re-entered the game after appearing to injure his leg early in overtime.

Roldan out-jumped the Century (14-10-4) defenders and headed the ball just inside the goal line.

From there, the 2012 Whittier Daily News Player of the Year was off to the races and sprinted almost 100 yards, much to the delight of a large contingent of El Rancho fans.

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High School Girls Soccer: La Mirada comes up empty against Downey

Downey’s Jocelyn Maldonado, left, passes to a teammate as La Mirada’s Madeline Panozzo closes in during Tuesday’s game. (Steven Carr / Staff Photographer)

By Dave Werstine, Staff Writer

DOWNEY – With Downey and visiting La Mirada highs finally putting pressure on each other, it was just a matter of who was going to crack first.

The calm and confident Vikings stood strong and the offense produced two quick goals midway through the second half to lead Downey to a 3-0 victory in a CIF Southern Section Division 4 semifinal Tuesday night.

The win propelled the Vikings (22-4-2) to a third consecutive trip to a CIF-SS final. After losing in 2011, they won their first championship in Division 5 last year.

It was that postseason experience that was the difference Tuesday and, for that matter, the entire season for second-seeded Downey.

“I think, from the beginning of the season, being in the finals before, that the girls were not going to be intimidated by being in a division higher,” Vikings coach Rachel Godfrey said. “They knew (winning the title) was possible. I think it was a huge part.”

Downey will face Quartz Hill, which upset top-seeded South Torrance 1-0 in overtime, in the championship game. CIF-SS will announce the date and time of the game today.

Godfrey, asked about the Vikings’ chances of repeating, smiled and said, “We are really starting to come together.”

The semifinal was a rematch of a game Downey won 1-0 on Dec. 21. That was the last time La Mirada (17-4-7) lost a game. It had gone 13-0-5 since then.

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High School Girls Soccer: Moriah Earley scores late for La Serna

La Serna High players celebrate after Tuesday’s 3-2 win over La Quinta. (Leo Jarzomb / Staff Photographer)

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

WHITTIER – La Serna High faced adversity in Tuesday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 5 girls soccer semifinals, but it came through when it mattered most.

After surrendering a two-goal lead to visiting La Quinta in the second half, La Serna regrouped and retook the lead when Moriah Earley scored her second goal of the game in the 58th minute.

Thanks to a strong Lancers defense, Earley’s goal turned out to be the difference in La Serna’s 3-2 victory.

The Lancers are headed to their second consecutive division championship game. La Serna, which improved to 22-4-3, will play either Friday or Saturday against Cabrillo of Lompoc. The Lancers lost last year’s final to Downey, 2-1 in overtime.

“I’m really proud of our effort,” La Serna coach Tessa Troglia said.

“Everybody worked on offense and everybody worked on defense. It was nice.”

La Quinta, which finished the season 20-5-4, rallied after trailing 2-0 at halftime.

The Blackhawks started their rally when Brenda Barriga scored on a penalty kick during the 45th minute.

Brielle Leon then deadlocked the contest when she scored nine minutes later. Leon’s goal was set up by a corner kick.

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Tuesday’s CIF-SS soccer playoff round-up: El Rancho boys, La Serna girls advance to final; La Mirada girls fall in semifinal

El Rancho is headed to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 boys soccer championship game after its dramatic 3-2 overtime victory over Century in the semifinals.  It will mark the Dons’ third consecutive final-round appearance.
La Serna is also championship game-bound after its 3-2 win over La Quinta in the Division 5 girls soccer semifinals. La Mirada, however, saw its season end with a 3-0 loss to Downey in the Division 4 girls soccer semifinals.

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High school wrestling news: La Habra High’s Michael Rangel to withdraw from CIF State Tournament

According to La Habra High School wrestling coach Dwayne DeNolf, Michael Rangel is pulling out of this weekend’s CIF State Tournament in Bakersfield.  Rangel, the Highlanders’ 106-pounder, is withdrawing from the event because of an elbow injury.  Rangel qualified for the state tournament by finishing ninth at last weekend’s CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet at Temecula Valley High School.  Rangel was the Whittier area’s only wrestler to qualify for the state tournament.

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High School Boys, Girls Soccer: Area teams look to keep momentum

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

El Rancho High School has looked impressive thus far in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 boys soccer playoffs.

The Del Rio League champion Dons (24-2-1) will look to keep that momentum going when they visit Century (14-9-4) in today’s semifinal at 3:30 p.m.

El Rancho, coming off a 5-0 quarterfinal win Friday over La Sierra, has outscored its opponents 16-1 in its three postseason matches.

Alex Roldan scored twice to lead the Dons on Friday. Agustin Hernandez, Jorge Hernandez and Jeffrey Valenzuela each added a goal against La Sierra.

With a win today, the top-seeded Dons would advance to their third consecutive division championship game. El Rancho captured a division crown in 2011 but lost in the final last year.

Dons coach Dominic Picon hopes the best is yet to come for this year’s squad.

“Our kids are excited,” Picon said. “They are playing well. Hopefully, we are ready.

“We have had an up-and-down season. I think we’re starting to peak at the right time.”

The Centurions, who took second place in the Orange League with a 7-3 record, are led by forward Ronaldo Pineda, who scored four goals in a 4-2 quarterfinal triumph over Oxnard. Pineda has scored a school-record 24 goals this season.

GIRLS SOCCER

La Mirada (16-2-4) at Downey (20-3-2), 5 p.m.

La Mirada reached the Division 4 semifinals with a 2-1 win over Riverside Poly.

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High School Baseball Preview: La Habra has new coach but familiar goal

The La Habra baseball team will be led by, from left, returning starters John Young, Marcus Lopez, Sean Sparling, Jacob Looney and Zach Ferreira. (Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

La Habra High School, thanks to the return of several key players, has high hopes for the 2013 baseball season.

The defending Freeway League champion Highlanders, who finished 17-11 overall last year and advanced to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs, are looking to go even farther this season.

La Habra, which finished 12-3 in league, will feature a new face in the dugout as coach John Sothern takes over for Paul Caffrey.

“Personally, it’s exciting for me because it’s my first full-time opportunity for me as a varsity coach,” Sothern said.

“It’s tough for guys who were part of a system the last three years and suddenly with a new coaching staff coming in, they have to adjust to a new system.

“The guys are doing a great job assimilating into the system. We’re getting good results from our new hitting, pitching and fielding philosophies.”

The Highlanders lost outfielder Aaron Porter and pitchers Josh Staumont and Spencer Long to graduation, but they still return plenty of talent, including shortstop Zack Ferreira, pitcher Sean Sparling, outfielder Omar Villicana, catcher Jacob Looney, pitcher/first baseman John Young, second baseman Marcus Lopez and third baseman/pitcher Brett Mays.

Sparling, who posted a 1-1 record and a 2.82 ERA in 27.1 innings last season, figures to take over the primary pitching duties.

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