In three years at Bell High, Waldir Guerra has rewritten both City Section and national high school soccer scoring record books. His totals include 117 goals, the most by a high school soccer player ever in the United States, and City marks of 44 goals in a season and 11 goals in a single game.
So it was not surprising Tuesday afternoon that Guerra was responsible for the lone goal posted by either team when Bell hosted Grant in a City quarterfinal boys soccer playoff match.
But what did raise a few eyebrows in Bell's 1-0 win was the strategy of Eagle Coach Bill Albano, who started Guerra for the second consecutive game as a defensive midfielder.
The move, necessitated after Bell lost three starters during the holiday break (one to eligibility, two to injury), certainly played an important role in the outcome of the game. Although Grant attempted just 10 shots on goal during the contest, the Lancers spent most of their time in control of the ball and in Eagle territory.
"I thought we controlled the game. I thought we dominated it," said Grant Coach Pat Pinkston, who said he was also playing without a pair of starters, who stayed home with the flu.
Guerra played a large role in keeping the ball out of the nets in the final minutes, blocking two passes with his chest and a third with a header.
"What can you say about Waldir?" said Albano. "He's an all-around player. I wish we had more of them."
Guerra's score came 17 minutes into the first half. Hector Saavedra made the assist, centering for Guerra off a free kick.
Grant appeared to tie the score with 18 minutes remaining when Cortez fired a quick rebound of a William Garcia miss into the nets. But Grant was whistled offsides on the play.
Bell plays host to San Pedro, a 4-2 winner over Granada Hills, in the semifinals Thursday.