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Cerritos girls soccer has no problems with Gahr, remains hot to begin season

By Loren Kopff

What a difference a season makes. The Cerritos girls soccer team opened up last season losing six of its first seven games with a tie sprinkled in there. The Lady Dons fielded a squad with just two seniors and had a young squad that was riddled with injuries.

But now, Cerritos has come full circle and is letting many out there know that this season’s team is ready to make some noise. Cerritos blanked Gahr 5-0 this past Monday afternoon to improve to 5-0-1, its best start since going 6-0-1 just two seasons ago. In addition, the Lady Dons have already scored 24 goals while posting four shutouts. Last season, Cerritos found the back of the net 24 times and only three players scored those 24 goals during a 4-16-1 campaign.

“Well, we have new girls and some of the new girls who were injured last year, learned what we want even though they were on the bench,” said Cerritos head coach Tony Montalvo of the quick turnaround. “I think that’s what is making the difference.”

One of those injured players from last year is already making a huge impact and could threaten some school records by the time this season is over, or when her high school career is done. Sophomore forward Tobechi Udeh, who tore her right meniscus in mid August of 2013 and sat out all of last season, scored in the first minute and again in the seventh minute on a pass from sophomore midfielder Lauryn Bautista. Udeh has already scored 13 goals and is only beginning to get her feet wet as she becomes one of the best players to have come through the program.

“I think she was a player we missed last year because we didn’t have a good striker last year,” Montalvo said. “[Senior forward Erika] Lizarraga and [sophomore defender Danica] Castro are the other two players who are incorporating into the team and making a difference on the team this year.”

Cerritos had several opportunities to blow the game wide open in the first half, taking eight shots on goal but missing about three or four because players would hesitate once they approached Gahr sophomore goalkeeper Destiny Corletto. The Lady Dons led 2-0 at the break and didn’t score again until the 67th minute when senior midfielder Juliana Sierra, just called up from the junior varsity team, scored her first goal of the season. Three minutes later, she made it 4-0 on one of six shots the visitors took on Corletto in the second half.

The final goal came from Lizarraga, who notched her second of the season. She was one of the three players who scored last season.

“I think the girls were overconfident in the first half,” Montalvo said. “Since they scored two early goals, they thought they could go 10-0 in the first half and that really concerned me a lot. So I talked to them in the second half and told them exactly what I wanted.”

After getting washed out last Saturday in the Best in the West Winter Soccer Classic, the Lady Dons will get pool play action started against Bell Gardens and San Gabriel on Saturday from Santa Fe High School. The tournament will resume on Monday before the team takes the rest of the month off.

As for Gahr (0-3), who is going through its eighth different head coach since last going to the playoffs following the 2002-2003 season, it visited El Rancho this past Wednesday, weather permitting, for its last scheduled game of the month.

“I’m pretty sure [the Suburban League] knows what we’re doing right now and they’re going to be ready for us,” Montalvo said. “But I want to do my job and I want the girls to do their job.”

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