Lakewood Soccer

CIF Boys’ Soccer: Lakewood Dominant In SoCal Regional Opener

The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.

It’s not about how you get knocked down, it’s about how you get back up.

On Tuesday, Lakewood boys’ soccer bounced back up from Saturday’s heartbreaking penalty kicks loss in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 championship game to beat Mission Bay 2-0 at home in the first round of the CIF SoCal Regional playoffs.

“To be honest we just forgot about it because the more we thought about it, it just brought us down,” Lakewood’s Alan Gonzalez said. “When we lost we didn’t feel like we deserved to lose because we knew we were the better team. But nothing goes how you planned it and we needed to just bounce back and finish everything else.”

This is the first SoCal Regional appearance in program history.

“I’m really happy and pleased with the boys and we live to fight another day,” Lakewood coach Alex Diaz said. “It’s hunger. I told (the players) that it comes down to them because if losing on Saturday doesn’t motivate you then I don’t know what does.”

Lakewood dominated possession against Mission Hills and outshot the visitors 17-9 in the game while Gonzalez and Michael Gutierrez gave the home side a first-half lead. Goalkeeper Diego Ortiz made four saves for the clean sheet, and the Lancers defense hasn’t allowed a goal since the CIF-SS quarterfinals. That’s over 350 consecutive scoreless postseason minutes.

Three of those clean sheets have come at new John Ford Stadium where Lakewood is undefeated this season.

“There’s a lot of motivation to be undefeated (at home),” Gonzalez said. “It’s a like a bond we have with this field and it just brings up our school spirit to eliminate every team that steps foot in our house.”

Diaz added that his team hasn’t been able to play the majority of their home games on campus over the last few years due to construction, and that only makes the games there more emotional.

“It gives me chills being here, it’s our home field, so I told the players, ‘No one comes here and disrespects us,’ we’ve got to take care of business,” he said. “I feel like the boys are comfortable here. So I think they just like playing here. It’s special. They’re making it special.”

Monthly Subscribers to The562

By The562 Network Inc

That proved to be the case yet again on Tuesday as Lakewood started the game on the front foot and had three shots in the first 10 minutes. The third came off the foot of Gonzalez after the ball came to him at the top of the 18-yard box and he blasted his shot off the outstretched hand of the diving Mission Bay goalkeeper Nick Herschman.

“It’s his work ethic,” Diaz said of Gonzalez. “He covers a lot of space for us. He’s been off a bit and he told me today, ‘Coach, I’m going to get you one today,’ and he could’ve had two or three.”

The second Lakewood goal came in the 20th minute when Gutierrez pounced on a Mission Bay miscue and slotted it home for his sixth goal in six postseason games this year.

Lakewood had the better scoring chances in the second half while putting six shots on goal. Mission Bay only had three shots on goal in the second half.

The Lancers will host Torres in the regional semifinals on Thursday. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. back at new John Ford Stadium. Torres won the Los Angeles City Section Division III championship and then came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Etiwanda on the road in the first round of the regional on Tuesday.

“We’re motivated to win and make more history for our school,” Gonzalez said.

VIDEO: Lakewood vs. Mission Bay, CIF SoCal Regional Playoffs
PHOTOS: Lakewood vs. Mission Bay, CIF SoCal Regional Boys’ Soccer
JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.