By Christian Romo
La Salle weathered the storm through a scoreless first half, but the Sunny Hills flood broke through in the second.
In the Duarte Cup final, the La Salle Lancers (6-1-1) lost to the Sunny Hills Lancers (4-0), 3-0, Saturday afternoon at Duarte High School. Sunny Hills pressed the Lancers throughout most of the game, but La Salle kept the game scoreless until the first of Emily Miramontes’s (7) two goals broke the tie in the 45th minute.
La Salle junior Samantha Nieto (11) led her team’s defense, stopping attacks near the penalty area and directing set plays in the midfield. The defense couldn’t halt the Sunny Hills attack in the second half, however, giving up three goals in a five-minute span. “We wanted it in the first half, but they broke us down, and we couldn’t come back from it,” Nieto said.
Despite playing without leading scorer Sierra Choeung, Sunny Hills constantly pressed La Salle’s back line, spending most of the game in their attacking half. “I was happy to see all the younger girls step up and make plays,” said Sunny Hills coach Jeff Gordon. “We knew that it was going to be tough to break them down, but if we could just get enough set plays, we knew we could score some.”
La Salle’s leading scorer Croix Soto (4) started the game at center-back, but was moved to striker later in the first half to help the offense. She found some opportunities late in the half, and again on a penalty kick midway through the second, but didn’t find the net.
“This is a learning experience for the girls,” said La Salle coach Sheima Berenji. “(We’re) working on attacking from midfield to striker, and also working on being aggressive and winning our fifty-fifty balls.”
Nieto also stressed improving the connection between their forwards and midfielders, especially vocally. “Communication was a big thing for us…we have to be able to communicate throughout the game,” she said.
Though it’s La Salle’s first loss of the season, Berenji believes her team will rebound. “There are still some things we have to work on,” she said, adding: “I definitely think they’ll be able to bounce back.”
La Salle next plays at home against St. Genevieve on Dec. 19 at 5 p.m.
Mayfield 1-0 La Cañada
A second-half goal secured third place in the Duarte Cup for the Mayfield Cubs (3-2) over the La Cañada Spartans (2-5) Saturday afternoon. The Cubs will begin Prep League play hosting Chadwick this Tuesday at 3:15p.m.
Temple City 2-0 Duarte
In the fifth-place game, the Temple City Rams (1-4) defeated the host Duarte Falcons (0-3-2) Saturday morning. The Falcons finished last in the tournament.