It may be a football adage, but if defense wins championships, then
the North Torrance girls soccer team looks well-stocked to repeat as
Pioneer League champion.
North returns all four of its starting fullbacks from last year's
squad, which ran the table in league play and advanced to the
quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs.
Alicia Taw, who was first-team all-league and first-team All-CIF last
year, will play sweeper again and anchor the Saxons defense.
"Our defense is going to win us games," Taw said. "I
have high expectations of our team this year. I think we are going to
win league and go on to win CIF."
Taw will have senior and Cal State Dominguez Hills recruit Mellissa
Livergood playing in front of her at stopper and will be flanked by
Alyssa Yamauchi and Helen Padilla.
"Our defense is definitely our strength at this point,"
first-year coach Dave Christensen said.
Before coming to North, Christensen coached the Valley Christian boys
soccer team to seven Olympic League titles in his 14-year tenure and
also coached the Biola University women's team into the nation's top 25
for the first time in school history. Christensen aims to keep the
program on track as he takes over for Erick Miseroy.
"I'm kind of going with the flow this year. If it was a losing
program, I'd clean house and change things around," Christensen
said. "I'm happy to just step into a program that has the
opportunity to be elite and have a possible chance to do well in the
Division V playoffs."
North lost five players from last year's squad and has some holes to
fill at the midfield and forward spots.
"We may need to move some people around to fill those gaps. I
think we have a pretty good midfield, but we may need to experiment with
our forwards to score some goals," Christensen said. "It's
going to be more of a balanced kind of attack.
"I hope I have a true goal scorer, but I'm not sure that I do. I
think Lyndsey Nelson has that potential."
Nelson, who was named second-team all-league, scored 14 goals as a
sophomore last year. Despite her early-season struggles, she will be
expected to carry a lot of the load on offense.
"I just need to finish my shots," Nelson said. "They
are there, but I just need to put them away. Once that starts happening,
it will help our offense a lot."
Experience and familiarity are two things in abundance at North; the
Saxons have 12 seniors on the team.
"I have a hungry group of seniors who experienced success last
year and would like to continue that. I think that gives us a good shot
at the league title," Christensen said.
South Torrance: Third-year coach Brad Gomez has the players to
make South's first year in the Pioneer League a successful one. South
returns 15 lettermen and 10 of its 11 starters. Senior goalkeeper Alyssa
Congdon is South's most dynamic player and should help keep the Spartans
in games. Midfielder Lenna Lamas leads a group of five sophomore
starters, including four who started as freshmen. Sophomores Lauren Hein
and Myla Senff return at the forward positions to key the Spartans'
attack. South again will play the entire season without arguably its
best player, Jordan Alivid, following her second knee surgery in as many
El Segundo: Juan Mosquera enters his ninth season at the head
of the Eagles' bench and will look to improve upon last year's
third-place finish in league and first-round exit in the Division V
playoffs. El Segundo boasts an experienced group of defenders, led by
sweeper Camille Kubler, who was named first-team all-league as a
freshman last year. Senior captains Kaycee Wilke and Kellye Larsen will
play key roles on defense and hope to lead the Eagles to their first
league title since 2000. Junior Bronwyn O'Neill will be looked upon to
step up her play in net. Senior Tasha Anderson will be counted on to
lend her experience to her fellow forwards -- sophomore Leanna Timoteo
and freshman Natalie Barbosa. El Segundo returns 11 lettermen and six
Torrance: Torrance alumnus Traci Castro and Sara Marks take
over as co-coaches of the team. Castro's parents started the girls
soccer program at Torrance in 1977. First-team all-leaguer Kaitlin
Bollen and second-team all-leaguer Rachael Lyons lead a group of seven
senior starters, four of whom comprise the midfield. Despite losing five
starters from last season's team, the Tartars return 11 lettermen and
boast a deep bench, particularly on defense.
Lawndale: Michelle Kallas takes over a young and developing
program at Lawndale. Sisters Phelina and Pricilla Herrera look to be the
two players to watch for on a team that has only three seniors. Kaylie
Campos and Crystal Valenzuela are vying for time in goal. The raw talent
and speed of sophomore forward Natalie Soto make her the team's top
scoring threat despite never having played at the high school or club