Jeanine Jackson of Harvard-Westlake High is not proud of the newspaper clippings posted strategically above her bed.
The clippings tell the story of the Wolverines’ elimination from the Southern Section playoffs in the previous two seasons:
An upset loss in the quarterfinals in 1998 followed by a poor effort in a semifinal loss in 1999.
“I did not want that to happen again this year,” said Jackson, after contributing four goals and three assists in the Wolverines’ 14-8 semifinal victory over Burroughs on Friday. “That would be tragic.”
Harvard-Westlake (27-4), the region’s top-ranked team, avoided tragedy only to come face to face with Bell Gardens in the Division III final at 7 tonight at Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach.
The task will be daunting for the No. 2-seeded Wolverines, whose main goal was to reach the final.
While some believe the Wolverines short-changed themselves by not setting a goal of winning a division championship, consider their opponent.
Defending champion Bell Gardens (29-0) has not lost a game since the program’s inception in 1998. The Lancers’ two-year record stands at 59-0 after three playoff victories this season in which they outscored opponents, 66-3.
Bell Gardens boasts a deep and talented roster. Junior Sheetal Narsai and sophomores Patty Cardenas, Alex Morales and Viviana Morales are members of the U.S. junior national developmental program.
Harvard-Westlake Coach Rich Corso has assigned a scout to every Bell Gardens game this season, but it’s unclear if he likes his team’s chances.
“We’re just happy to be there,” Corso said.