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CHS girls play Saturday for CIF Championship

After playing more than 2400 minutes in what has been a dream season for the Claremont High School varsity girls soccer team, the Wolfpack may just need 80 minutes to achieve its ultimate goal—winning a CIF Southern Section championship.

The Pack advanced to the Division 3 girls soccer final on Tuesday by posting its sixth consecutive shutout with a 1-0 win over Sierra League rival St. Lucy’s in the semifinal round at CHS stadium. Tuesday’s match was the third meeting between the teams this season, with the Regents winning the first match and then playing to a tie in their second encounter.

With Claremont having fallen behind in each of the first 2 meetings against St. Lucy’s, CHS Coach Tim Tracey was particularly adamant about the Pack being first on the scoreboard to set the tempo. Wolfpack leading scorer Madison Stark did just that by scoring the game’s only goal early in the first half off an assist by Hannah Chua.

 “What we had discovered was that we needed to get on the board first,” Coach Tracey said. “Our hats are off to St. Lucy’s because they are a really good team that battled from a wildcard spot to get here. It’s been an amazing season and I am proud of our girls.”

Following Stark’s goal, Claremont’s defense provided the insurance the Wolfpack needed the rest of the way. CHS goalie Drew Williams recorded 7 saves in 80 minutes of play, including a key diving save at the 52nd minute that prevented St. Lucy’s from tying the game.

Both Ryley Settles and Haley Arft nearly extended Claremont’s lead at the 65th and 71st minutes respectively, but could not convert on their goal attempts. Williams added another save just minutes later, successfully preventing a scoring attempt from St. Lucy’s midfielder Sara Kashe.

The Regents had one more opportunity to score within the last 2 minutes by forward Shannon Kent kicked the ball over the goal.

“We had some minor breakdowns on defense in the second half but we held steadfast,” Coach Tracey said.

By defeating St. Lucy’s, Claremont now holds a 26-1-4 overall record and has either defeated or tied all of its opponents this season. Bishop Amat will be the Pack’s opponent in Saturday’s game at Mission Viejo High School after the Lancers defeat Chino Hills in the other semifinal game on Tuesday, 4-0. The showdown will begin at 5 p.m.

CHS forward Rebekah Evans suffered a minor injury and was helped off the field on Tuesday after receiving being hit from behind by St. Lucy’s Kennedy LaNier. Coach Tracy expects Evans to play on Saturday and believes his team stands a good chance of beating the Lancers.

“She’s [Evans] is good to go. She was a little banged up and hurt her ribs a little bit but she wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he said. “With Bishop Amat, I’ve seen them and we have a scouting report on them. We’re going to make some adjustments and I think we match up very well with them.”

Last Friday’s game was another defensive gem

The Claremont High School varsity girls soccer team has turned defense into an art form in its last 5 matches.

The Wolfpack moved on to the CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinals last Friday by posting its 5th straight shutout against its opponent, a 1-0 win over quarterfinal opponent Diamond Bar at CHS Stadium.

“Our defense won the game today,” said CHS coach Tim Tracey. “Our success is the result of our strong defense. Today wasn’t our best soccer. We were under high pressure [from Diamond Bar] and our passes weren’t the best. But I am very proud of our girls.”

The match itself only had one goal, courtesy of Claremont midfielder Madison Stark header off a corner kick by Melissa Telarroja in the first half. Stark found the play to be the opportunity the Wolfpack needed to get on the board.

“We had a great play that started with the ball out of bounds,” she explained. “I knew where the kicker [Telarroja] was going to place the ball and I wanted to be in the right spot. I saw the ball coming so I jumped up and wound up hitting it into the net.”

The Pack spent the second half holding off the resilient Brahmas, who refused to simply surrender to CHS. Diamond Bar’s best chances came between the 51 to 65-minute mark but CHS goalie Amanda Garvin, along with defenders such as Ariana Holmes and Karen Parga were able to keep the opposition at bay.

“It takes a lot of teamwork. We talk very well back there and we trust each other,” Garvin said. “It’s great to know how well we can play together. You can’t second guess yourself or your teammates when you’re at this point.  We are excited because we haven’t gone this far in so long so we’re living off the high of our previous games.”

Claremont had a few chances to extend its 1-0 lead in the final 12 minutes of the match. Telarroja nearly added a goal to her assist but Diamond Bar goalie Tyler Hunt made the save. Other near goals included Megan Renken on a breakaway but the lead pass was too far ahead of her and a cross attempt by Stark that just missed Merin Arft.

The missed opportunities did not take away from what Stark believed was a solid team effort.

“Definitely the team chemistry is making the difference for us,” Stark said. “It’s so much stronger. We’ve bonded more with each other since last year and we’re working together very well on the field.”

CHS hosted St. Lucy’s yesterday in one of 2 CIF-SS semifinal matches that took place on Tuesday. Look for an update of yesterday’s result on the COURIER website at www.claremont-courier.com.

—Landus Rigsby

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