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GIRLS' SOCCER / DIVISION III PLAYOFFS

El Modena Stopped by Chaminade

March 09, 1997|WENDY WITHERSPOON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CERRITOS — The El Modena girls' soccer team might have been a group of unlikely finalists, but their dreams were just as big as anyone else's.

And after the West Hills Chaminade girls' soccer team defeated El Modena, 2-1, Saturday in the Southern Section Division III championship game, the Vanguards' disappointment was acute.

In the 77th minute, Chaminade's Heather Cole controlled a throw-in from teammate Kerrie Clavadatcsher and passed it to Jennifer Valentine, who volleyed it high into the net.

The goal gave the Eagles their first girls' soccer title and dashed the Vanguards' hopes.

El Modena, 19-8-2 overall, lost five starters to graduation after last season, when it won the Division II championship.

Considering the losses, El Modena's Century League championship this season was impressive. The Vanguards also breezed through their first three playoff games, which they won by a combined score of 20-2 before defeating North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake, 2-1 in overtime in the semifinals.

But against third-seeded Chaminade, fourth-seeded El Modena ran into a group of big, physical players who weren't afraid to use a little force.

"That has been our way the whole season," said Chaminade Coach Mike Evans. "Play hard [and] when the ball is there, hit hard. . . . Our trainer pieces them back together the next day."

The Eagles were called for 22 fouls in the game, nearly twice as many as the Vanguards. There were four yellow cards awarded in the game, two for each team.

"They pounded us. They were big," El Modena Coach Jeff Pearson said.

El Modena star midfielder Jill Pearson, the coach's sister, drew much of Chaminade's attention. She played well nonetheless, creating plays in the midfield and taking four shots on goal.

"Her play comes straight from her heart. She just plays on pure guts," Jeff Pearson said. "She just drives and drives and drives, picks up her teammates, demands 110% from herself and when it comes down to the end, if her team is not on top, she's devastated."

It was tied, 0-0, at halftime before Chaminade (23-3-3) scored in the 52nd minute after a cross from Clavadatcsher found an open Nikki Zar at the far post. Zar shot high into the upper right corner of the goal.

El Modena tied it, 1-1, about five minutes later after Robin Schmidt took a free kick at about midfield. Chrissy Garcia headed it toward the goal and Kerry Anderson knocked it in.

"I am very proud of the players. Every game was a challenge," Pearson said. "They may have lost tonight, but they lost to a great team and they showed a lot of character. They have nothing to hang their heads about."

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