Moments after his team's 2-1 loss to Buena High School Tuesday in a Southern Section 3-A second-round match, Leonard Lopez, Los Alamitos girls' soccer coach, was making a prediction for the Griffins' future.
"Next year will be our year," Lopez said. "I know it."
Lopez's belief is based on his team's youth. Fourteen of the 18 players are underclassmen--five juniors, four sophomores and five freshmen.
"I think they'll benefit from what they've learned today," Lopez said.
Buena (19-4-1) offered textbook examples not only on how to play the game, but how to win it.
Buena's first goal was a sublime example. Many of the Los Alamitos players never even saw it coming.
Bulldog forward Patsy Leivas swept down from midfield with the ball, spun twice around a pack of defenders and nudged into the open path of Ruth Loomer.
Loomer, a freshman forward, stopped the ball, waited a split second to fake the Los Alamitos defense and shot from 20 yards out into the net's upper-left corner.
Los Alamitos came close to scoring at the 37-minute mark. Several shots were fired, but Buena goalkeeper Russann Stevens stopped them all and booted the ball downfield.
Los Alamitos recovered it and began to drive in for another shot. But Leivas sprinted in, stole the ball and dribbled 60 yards on a breakaway drive.
Ten yards before the goal, Leivas passed to Patricia Kimble, who lofted the ball to the right of Griffin goalkeeper Dawn Marie Gludt.
Down 2-0 in the second half, Los Alamitos began to press the pace but couldn't keep control of the ball. But 15 minutes into the half, Los Alamitos forward Leanna Jay stole the ball for a breakaway down the left side.
Jay dribbled to within 20 yards of the goal and shot, but the ball deflected off a defenseman's leg and into the path of sophomore Jaycee Leitner, who quickly shot and scored from five yards.
The Griffins finish at 21-5-2.
In other 3-A matches:
Esperanza 3, Long Beach Wilson 0--The Aztecs (21-1-2), the second-seeded team in the division, recorded their 20th shutout of the season at home.
Maria Dela Torre scored the first goal 11 minutes into the game on a header off a corner kick from Chrissy Coppage.
Esperanza will play Kennedy Friday in a quarterfinal match at a site to be determined.
San Gorgonio 2, Cypress 0--San Gorgonio (26-1) scored 25 minutes into the first half and then with eight minutes left in game. Cypress goalie Shelley Aquire made three saves before being injured early in the second half. Aquire suffered a bloody nose and mouth in a collision with a San Gorgonio player while diving for ball. Cypress finishes 13-7-1.
Kennedy 3, Rio Mesa 1--Cheryl Hand scored once and had two assists to lead Kennedy (16-5) at home. Tracy Van Herk put Kennedy ahead, 1-0, when she scored off an assist from Hand 10 minutes into the first half. Hand scored five minutes later off an assist from Kristy DeMont. Kennedy plays Esperanza Friday.
Laguna Hills 3, Bishop Amat 0--Seniors Heather McIntyre, Joanna Noble and Jenny Cowper scored one goal each in the first half for visiting Laguna Hills (18-5-1), the fourth-seeded team. Bishop Amat ends 16-5-1. Laguna Hills plays Alemany in one quarterfinal Friday.
Alemany 3, La Quinta 0--Sondra Shatkin scored two goals to lead Alemany at La Quinta. Shatkin broke a scoreless first half tie with about a minute left in the first half. Shatkin scored early in the second half to put Alemany ahead, 2-0.
La Quinta goalie Wendy Wilson made 14 saves.
Royal 1, Mater Dei 0--Royal's Traci Hamann scored 10 minutes into the second half to lead Royal at home. Mater Dei ends its season at 25-2.
In 2-A matches:
South Pasadena 2, Brea-Olinda 1--Cassie Zappaterreno headed home a corner kick early in the second half to give South Pasadena the victory at Brea.
Zappaterreno's goal, which was scored with two minutes played in the period, advanced South Pasadena (16-6-1) to Friday's quarterfinals.
South Pasadena, ranked fourth in 2-A, took a 1-0 lead with 18 minutes gone when Rachel Wackerman scored on a breakaway.
Nine minutes later, Brea-Olinda (11-3-4) tied the score on Elice Crowder's breakaway goal.