By John Sherrard, Correspondent
MONTEBELLO – Defense wins championships, and Thursday was no exception in a battle for the Almont League boys soccer title.
Montebello High School won its third consecutive league title with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over visiting Bell Gardens in the final game of the regular season.
Scoring the only goal of the game was junior forward Hector Frias in the 71st minute.
Both teams will find out who they will play in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs on Monday when the pairings will be announced. The first round is scheduled for Feb. 15.
Defense has led the Oilers (16-8-1, 9-1) in Almont play this season, as they recorded eight shutouts in 10 league games.
Junior goalkeeper Efren Hernandez has been in front of the net for all of those shutouts.
“I couldn’t score without the team,” Frias said through Montebello coach Jesus Garcia, who was interpreting. “I can’t describe it. It’s just an unbelievable feeling.”
Junior forward Isai Cortez threw the ball in on a set play to senior forward Cristian Zuniga, who skimmed the ball with his head near the right post, and Frias found the loose ball and knocked it past Bell Gardens goalkeeper Manuel Madrigal.