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Los Alamitos Rallies to Beat Torrance, 3-2


TORRANCE — There's a belief among soccer coaches that defending a 2-0 lead is one of the most difficult things to accomplish.

How true that was for Torrance Tuesday. The Tartars bolted to a 2-0 lead in the first minute of play in the girls' Division I semifinals against Los Alamitos, only to see the Griffins score two goals in the final two minutes for a 3-2 victory. It will be Los Alamitos' first appearance in a championship final.

Midfielder Sommer Hammoud got the winner in the last 40 seconds, popping in a six-footer on a ball that had slipped through the hands of Torrance goalkeeper Laura Bedell and came to rest in the mud just in front of the left goal post.

Torrance dominated Los Alamitos in the first 20 minutes. Barely 30 seconds had elapsed when the Tartars' Kim Pope took a nice chip that cleared two disorganized Griffin defenders and scored.

Torrance took advantage of poor marking by Los Alamitos and scored another goal 25 seconds later. At the 10th minute, a flick onto goal by Kelli Newhall following a crossing pass sent Griffin goalkeeper Jenny Willemse sprawling for the save.

The game was about 30 minutes old when Los Alamitos began to attack with authority. Freshman Nikki Szlak started the Griffins' first goal, slide-tackling a pass into the right wing to an unmarked Hammoud. Hammoud drew out Bedell, making only her fourth start, and drove a soft grounder at the net.

Torrance gave up too much space in the second half, particularly in the back line, and it was just a matter of time before Los Alamitos got even.

After several nice attacks failed, Shinen got a rebound off Hammoud's leg and found the net and a 2-2 tie.

The ball Hammoud played for the winner probably would have skipped out of bounds on a dry day, but deteriorating conditions caused by rain turned the school's football field into a muddy swamp.

"Our girls showed a lot of character today," Griffin Coach Rich Manning said.

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