Girls' Soccer: Estancia starts strong

The Estancia High girls' soccer team impressed in its CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoff opener Thursday night.

The Eagles showcased a balanced attack, looking like a team that has the potential to make a deep run in the postseason.

Freshmen Desiree Mendoza and Jada Alford, junior Isabelle Cruz and senior Lauren Kaucher all scored as Estancia blanked Bellflower, 4-0, to advance.

"We played a pretty complete game today," Estancia Coach Josh Juarez said. "It was a good win. Overall, we wanted to be good offensively, defensively and on set pieces today. We scored on a corner kick, we got the shutout and we scored four goals. We definitely did well in all three of those phases."

Next comes the round that has given the Eagles problems in the past. The Eagles have fallen in the second round of CIF each of the last two seasons, and have not advanced to the CIF quarterfinals since 1993. But this year could be different.

Estancia (14-5-2) will play at Mission Hills Alemany in the second round Tuesday. Alemany defeated Ocean View, 2-0, in another first-round game on Thursday night.

The Eagles took the advantage early over Bellflower (10-9), the second-place team from the Suburban League. In the first half, Mendoza tallied the first goal, assisted by junior Lexi Osso. Mendoza then got an assist of her own, as her corner kick was headed into the back of the net by Alford.

Mendoza admitted that she was a bit nervous, playing in her first CIF game.

"But then, once we started, I was like, 'All right, we got this,'" she said. "I just started playing my game ... We all communicated well. We got our rhythm and we just finished them off."

Estancia added to its lead in the 49th minute. Alford, running up the right side of the field, crossed it to Cruz for the goal. Later, in the 72nd minute, the Eagles got another nice cross for the final goal.

This time it was freshman junior varsity call-up Paulina Cortez, who crossed it ahead to senior Lauren Kaucher on the right side of the box. Kaucher was the one who had the hat trick last week against Calvary Chapel.

She stayed hot, scoring the Eagles' fourth goal of the night. The defense, including junior Monique Mendoza in goal, preserved the shutout.

Juarez believes his team is playing well at the right time, especially as seniors Katarina Freiberger and Sammie Haynes have recently returned from injury.

"I think we have a strong team that can go deep in the playoffs," he said. "Really, I feel that when we're composed and moving the ball well, we can compete with anybody."

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo

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