Cerda's goal helps No. 5 Edison tie Villa Park
ORANGE-The Villa Park Spartans were moments away from a big opening match victory in the first game of the Aliso Cup Tournament.
One well placed shot off the left foot of Edison junior Mackenzie Cerda made sure that victory never happened.
Cerda scored the match-tying goal with two minutes remaining, as No. 5 Edison and Villa Park played to a 1-1 tie in a Pool B match at El Modena High.
“We believed in ourselves, and in the second half, everyone just picked up their games,” Cerda said. “It was good to see everyone working and fighting together.”
The Spartans (1-0-1) took the lead in the fourth minute of the match. Off a side throw-in from senior Aryanna St. Pierre, sophomore Bethany Sutherland located the ball and headed a shot past Chargers junior goalie Jordyn Gressier and into the back of the net.
“I was able to back up, judge the ball, and head it in,” Sutherland said.
Villa Park managed to stifle Edison’s offensive runs throughout the first half. Led by the defensive efforts of St. Pierre, Jenna Reeves, and Berlyn Gasporra, the Chargers were unable to establish consistent possessions in the attacking third.
Edison finally managed a couple of scoring opportunities later in the first half, but shots by senior Kelsea Arenado and Cerda sailed over the crossbar.
Villa Park had a chance to add to the lead in 33rd minute, but senior Cassidy Hodson couldn’t quite control a loose ball directly in front of the net before Gressier managed to dive on it for the save.
"This was really our first game playing together and Villa Park came out on fire in the first half to get that early goal and put us on our heels," Chargers coach Kerry Crooks said. "I told the girls at halftime that it would click for us and that we just needed to continue working harder to make each other look good."
The Chargers opened the second half on the attack and nearly tied the match in the 44th minute, as a shot by senior Sydney Stout was stopped by Spartans goalie Breana Martinez.
Edison continued to make several strong runs into the attacking third throughout the second half, but Reeves continued to spark the Spartans defense with several big clearances and tight defense on Charger attackers.
Then in the 78th minute, Edison senior Brooke Lillywhite sent a pass toward Cerda near the top of the box. Angling toward the left, Cerda received the ball, swing inside, and blasted a shot that sailed just over the leap of Martinez, skimmed off the crossbar and bounced over the goal line and into the net.”
“Once Brooke (Lillywhite) passed me the ball, I turned quick and the defender wasn’t too close, so I just took my chance and hit,” Cerda said.
Crooks highlighted Cerda's effort to create chances and the Chargers second half defense as catalysts for a better overall effort after the intermission.
"If you give Mackenzie enough time around the ball, she is going to put one away," Crooks said. "Our defense made great adjustments in the second half, and didn’t give up as many corners and throw-ins.”
Spartans coach Brent Whitfield also credited Cerda for her ability to find the space to get off a quality shot on frame.
“We had chances to get the ball out of the back and it was a bad clearance for us,” Spartans coach Brent Whitfield said. “They got the ball to Mackenzie and she is a great player. She was able to get a good shot.”
Whitfield also acknowledge that closing out games when the opportunity presents itself is something the Spartans will have to improve upon going forward.
“I told the girls after the match that if they want to be a CIF contender, these are the games that we have to gut out and come away with the win,” Whitfield said “We put a lot of pressure on our backs and our goalkeeper and it showed late.”
Also in the Aliso Cup
No. 4 Dana Hills 3, M.L. King of Riverside 1: Sydnie Zuccolotto scored twice and Brittany Mueller added a goal in the Dolphins (1-0) road victory in a Pool C match.
No. 7 Esperanza 1, Trabuco Hills 0: Brittany Dyer’s second half goal was the difference, as the Aztecs (1-0) opened the season with a win over the Mustangs (0-1) in a Pool F match at Esperanza.
Upland 1, Canyon 0: Despite nine saves from Mia Hummel, the Comanches (0-1) fell to the host Highlanders in Pool A action. Upland’s Tanya Samarazich scored the lone goal of the match in the 31st minute.