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CHS girls soccer just can’t stop winning — PODCAST

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@claremont-courier.com

Tuesday evening saw another victory for the Claremont high school girls’ varsity soccer team, who dispelled of a tough Bonita Bearcats team, 2-0, at home.

Two second half goals gave Claremont the edge, but Claremont’s offensive force found it difficult to convert their chances against Bonita. The Bearcats either cleared their lines when Claremont got too close to score or got in the way of Wolfpack attempts.

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“They played well. They were very organized in the back, they had a plan to counter us and they got in on us a couple times,” CHS girls’ varsity head coach Tim Tracey said. “I don’t like playing Bonita because they compete so well and it’s a rivalry. These kids all play club together and [we’re] like two miles from each other.”

Claremont kicked off the first half and for the opening six minutes it was all Claremont pressure that Bonita’s defense had to absorb. The Pack created a solid scoring chance early on when senior forward, Madison Wolden, put in a dangerous cross from the right wing, but no Wolfpack player was able to get a touch on the ball when it came fizzling past the six-yard area.

Minutes later, following another missed Claremont opportunity, Bonita used the home team’s pressure to their advantage and sprung a fast break — one of Bonita’s only chances of the match. After a simple save by Bonita’s senior goalkeeper Angelina Hert, she launched the ball forward towards her strikers and it bounced over the heads of Claremont’s midfield and defense. The bad bounce set off a footrace between senior defender Jasmine Armas and sophomore Bonita forward Natalie Kooba which the Bearcat won, but not before Armas stuck out her leg to thwart Kooba’s shot on goal.

“I knew if I wasn’t sprinting back, she was going to score with an open shot,” Armas said. ‘So when I was sprinting back I just went and slide tackled and stopped the ball. I was relieved, because I was honestly scared. I was like ‘oh my gosh, they are not going to score right now.’”

The chance stayed alive for Kooba but her follow-up attempt lacked the same venom as the first, with the shot going directly into the grasp of Claremont senior goalkeeper Gianna Bonnett.

After 10 minutes of play, another scoring chance opened up for CHS, this time from Claremont’s senior left winger Mia Gomez, who struck the ball just outside the 18-yard box. Bonita’s goalkeeper saw it coming and made an acrobatic save to keep the game scoreless.

Throughout the first half, Claremont continued to pepper Hert’s goal with shots from inside and outside the box but chances went begging for the Wolfpack.

The best chance of the first half came with three minutes left to play. On the edge of the box, Claremont senior midfielder Maddie Coles put in a high cross which grazed the head of sophomore striker Isabella Salas, who contorted her body to get the attempt on target as the cross was a little behind her forehead. Salas’s header took some of the sting out of Coles’s cross, but caused the ball to change direction and momentum drastically which Hert did not anticipate. While the goalie scrambled to read the path of the soft header, Hert made the save and kept the game leveled going into halftime.

Bonita kicked off the second half and enjoyed possession for a few seconds until Claremont went back to their highly efficient pressuring of Bonita players who had possession and cutting off their passing lanes. Sadly for Bonita, many of their first half problems, such as big or bad touches, miscued passes and a disorganized midfield, remained prevalent throughout the second half.

About seven minutes into the half, Claremont senior forward Natalie Turiace opened up the scoring with a stunning curling effort that left Hert rooted to her goal line. The shot from outside the box fell deliciously into the top right corner of the goal where no goalie would or could have gotten to it. The goal brought not only the Claremont bench to their feet, but also the crowd, clearly in awe of the effort.

“I really wanted to score so I saw my open space and I just took the shot,” Turiace said. “I noticed the keeper was like on the left side of the goal so I shot on the far side and luckily I got it/. It felt really nice [to score] and since it was such a close game, yeah, I was excited.”

About 10 minutes after the opening goal, Gomez tried a curling effort of her own from the left wing which came close to going in but hit the crossbar on its way down. More Claremont pressure followed but Bonita stood firm and did their best to not give up another chance.

With 12 minutes left to play, Claremont senior midfielder Riley Zitar pounced on a loose ball and drove her way across Bonita’s defenses and the halfway line. She then sent Salas on her way down the right wing. Salas took a big touch, looked up and found midfield partner Coles waiting for a cross in the box. Coles received a high cross and simply redirected the ball with her head and into Bonita’s net, making the score 2-0.

As soon as she struck the ball, Coles said she knew it was going in.

“It was mostly Salas, I just tapped it in,” Coles said. “You always get this feeling right before you score and I just had that feeling so I crashed [the box] and tried to get in front and Salas always puts the ball in super nice so it’s just a matter of getting on top of it and redirecting it.”

The second goal put the game out of reach for Bonita, who struggled to find any offensive magic or cohesion during Tuesday night’s game. Claremont continued to pound on the door of Bonita’s goal during the final 10 minutes of the game but did not find another way through.

Last Thursday Claremont’s added another league victory, 4-0, over Ruben Ayala High School at CHS. The match was Claremont’s last regular season home game so the team recognized its seniors. Then on Saturday the Wolfpack faced the Bulldogs of Ayala again this time in Chino Hills. Although the game was closer, Claremont still got the win, 2-1. The two wins extended the Pack’s perfect league record to 8-0-0, and its overall record to 17-0-1.

Despite the girls’ success this season, Coach Tracey said they still have a pivotal game on Tuesday against Alta Loma. With a 7-1 league record, the Braves are right on the Wolfpack’s heels and an Alta Loma win will result in a tie for first place going into the final game of the season. The match will be in Alta Loma and begins at 5:30 p.m.

 

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