GIRLS SOCCER: Los Al downs Harvard-Westlake 3-0, advances to CIF finals against JSerra.

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GIRLS SOCCER:  Los Al downs Harvard-Westlake 3-0, advances to CIF finals against JSerra.

The Los Alamitos girls soccer team parlayed a dominating second half performance and a record-breaking performance by sophomore Tabitha LaParl, to down host Harvard-Westlake 3-0 to advance to next Saturday’s CIF Division I finals.

LaParl scored two second half goals which gave her 30 on the season, the best in Dvision I, and 53 in her career, tying and then setting a new Los Alamitos all-time career mark. The previous record was set in 1991 by Liz Willemse Yoast, who drove up from Laguna Hills to cheer Tabi and the Griffins on.

The Griffins, the No. 2 seed in the brackets, will next take on No. 1 seed JSerra which advanced to the finals via a 3-1 win over No. 4 seed Villa Park. Los Al will be seeking its fourth CIF title in five trips (they won in 1996, 1997 and 2005 and reached the finals in 2009).

The two teams are no strangers, with many players from both teams being teammates on the SoCal Blues club soccer team which is coached by JSerra coach Greg Baker.

The Griffins were never in trouble against Harvard-Westlake, although the Wolverines started off the match with a pressing offense shape which Los Al had not seen much this year. Nerves may have played an early factor as first touches were less quality than would be expected by both teams, and defense for the most part ruled. This situation was certainly influenced by the narrow confines of the Harvard-Westlake field. The Griffins couldn’t spread the ball around as much as they would at home or on a larger field.

The Los Al defense turned in its fourth straight playoff shutout, but sophomore goalkeeper Reezyn Turk, who hasn’t been that busy in her first three playoff marches, certainly came up big for Los Al, making three strong saves in the first half and a couple more in the second.

Both sides had opportunities in the first half, with the Griffins slowly gaining control of the match. But still, the score was 0-0 at halftime.

The Griffins made a few adjustments during the break and came out with a far more aggressive scheme — eschewing some aesthetics for a more direct attack against the bunkered Harvard-Westlake defense. The Griffin players fired shots — which paid immediate dividends. Two minutes into the second half, the Griffins drew a foul from about 35 yards out. Analisa Gjonich’s free kick was punched in the air by the charging Wolverine keeper Devon Cartmel but that left her out of the net when Jayden Newkirk headed the descending ball over the defender at the left post and into the net to put Los Al up 1-0.

Harvard-Westlake looked ready to equalize in the 56th minute when Whitney Elson volleyed a powerful right-footed strike that Turk deflected away with Turk’s right hand in the 56th minute. .

Los Al had a few more great chances but couldn’t finish them until the 62nd minute when the Harvard centerback couldn’t gain control of the ball which was quickly collected by Griffin midfielder Colby Barnett. When other defenders rushed to pick up Barnett, she dished the ball to Tabi LaParl who beat the keeper with a shot to the lower left.

Nine minutes later Barnett collected another loose ball and split the defenders to find LaParl who still fought off two defenders and fired a shot into the nets to make it 3-0.

Los Alamitos, the Surf League champions, improved its record to 26-0-4 overall. JSerra, the Trinity league champs, will bring an 18-0-3 mark into the final match which will be played at Warren High School next Saturday. Game time is to be determined.

And for more coverage and photos of the game…

Author: Los Al TV

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