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SOCCER : Belmont Defeats No. 1 Bell for City Championship


When anyone used to mention City Section soccer, Bell High School came to mind.

But that changed last weekend.

Belmont is the name for City soccer now.

The Sentinels (10-1-2) toppled the seemingly unbeatable Eagles, 1-0, at Van Nuys' Birmingham High on March 5 to win the City Section championship for the second time in eight years.

The top-seeded Eagles (12-1-1) were the third undefeated team to fall in as many games to Belmont. Second-seed San Pedro (11-1-1) lost its sole match in the semifinals, 2-1, and No. 3 Garfield (8-1-3) was squashed, 4-0, in the quarterfinals.

With Jose Salmeron's 14th goal of the season, a gorgeous half-scissors kick in the 60th minute, the Sentinels avenged last year's first-round playoff loss to the Eagles' wild-card squad. Salmeron's goal was only the 10th given up by Bell all season.

Bell's scoring trio--Oswaldo Williams, Maynor Alvarez and Jorge Iberri--were held scoreless by the Sentinel defense, led by Octavio Calvillo, for the first time since it tied Garfield, 0-0, at the start of the season.

"I know how the seniors feel," said Waldir Guerra, the Eagles assistant coach and a former Eagles player who faced Belmont when it won its first City championship.

"This is a reminder of the 1986 match." In that game, the last time the two teams met in the finals, the Sentinels garnered their first City title.


Bell Gardens picked up its third Southern Section Division III title, defeating Burbank Burroughs, 3-1, on March 5 at Cerritos Gahr High.

The game came down to two coaches' strategies.

Burroughs midfielder and leading scorer Roberto Perez, an All-America pick by the National Soccer Coaches Assn. of America, was expected to be double-teamed. Indians Coach Mike Kodama figured it would open up the field for his other scorers.

Coach Orlando Brenes, who has guided the Lancers to 12 league titles in 14 seasons, didn't fall for the decoy: "I wasn't going to get into that ploy, so I matched (Perez) with Hernan Acosta and he did his job."

A job well done. Perez had only one shot on goal in the entire match.

Sal Castillo, an Almont League MVP, was a "key in defending their other big gun, Eddie Melgar," Brenes said.

After a scoreless first half, Lancer Gustavo Garita scored in the 47th minute on a back pass by Castillo.

About three minutes later, Garita set up Jaime Olivares to make it 2-0. After the Indians scored, defender Roberto Arredondo converted a penalty kick to seal the win.

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