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El Dorado Players Kick It Up a Notch

As if to help compensate for every key teammate they have lost, members of the Placentia El Dorado girls’ soccer team are turning in record-setting performances.

Freshman goalkeeper Kirstin Radlinski, for example, has posted a school-record 14 shutouts after taking over for Tawnya Patino and Ashly Vale.

Patino, last season’s starting goalie, got an after-school job and opted not to play this season. Vale, her back-up, suffered a broken leg over the summer and has yet to play this season.

The Golden Hawks also lost last season’s leading scorer, Vanessa Chanez, who quit the team before the season because of “a personality conflict” with her coach, according to Coach Juan Mares, in his third season.

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But the return of junior forward Tasia Duarte, who didn’t play for El Dorado last season to focus on club soccer, has eased that loss. Duarte, with 20 goals and 11 assists, leads an offense-minded team that has a school-record 81 goals.

The Golden Hawks (20-3-3, 9-1) have outscored their opponents, 81-12, overall and, 41-4, in league play en route to the Empire League title and a school-record number of victories.

With a nine-game winning streak since a Jan. 8 loss to Anaheim Loara, and victories in 13 of their last 14 games, they enter the Southern Section Division III playoffs with momentum.

“I was kind of skeptical about how it was going to go at first, but I think we’ve all kind of picked it up,” said senior forward Robin Bennett, who has returned from knee surgery last May to tally 12 goals and 12 assists.

Duarte and Bennett are two of four players who have scored 12 goals or more. Center midfielder Darci Gwartz, who has 19 goals and five assists, and junior forward Vanessa Lewis (12 goals) are the others.

The Golden Hawks, semifinalists for the first time in Division II last season, face Anaheim Savanna, the third-place finisher in the Orange League, in the first round of Division III playoffs on Saturday at El Dorado.

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Change is good: Anaheim Esperanza still features the same players it has had for the last three seasons. Arizona-bound Erin Clewett and USC-bound Heather Jablonsky just haven’t been in their usual places.

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Clewett, a forward for her first three seasons at Esperanza, has been switched to midfielder, and Jablonsky, a midfielder in the past, has been moved up front by first-year Coach John King.

The changes may have taken a little getting used to, but the girls have made it look easy.

“It was kind of a big change for me,” Clewett said. “I wasn’t too happy at first, but it’s worked out good. We’re winning, so I guess I’m doing my job right.”

Clewett has a team-high nine goals to go with four assists. She has 43 career goals, surpassing the school record of Kim Gallo, who had 40 from 1993-1997. Clewett also is the school’s all-time leader in points with 115. Gallo held the previous record with 98.

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Jablonsky has eight goals and nine assists this season and 30 goals and a school-record 43 assists in her career.

Lauren Peterson


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