Granada Hills cruised to a comfortable victory against South Gate in the second round of the CIF LA City Section Girls' Soccer Division I Championship.

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Thursday February 15, 2024, was the tale of two programs with different journeys in the 2023-2024 season. The South Gate Rams have had success these past three years. The accomplishments of the Rams is the result of the work ethic and dedication of their leader Coach Jose Hidalgo. Although South Gate did not get the result on the road against Granada, the program has much to celebrate. Within the last three years the Rams have progressed from division three to division one. Along the way the Rams have demonstrated they can hang with the best. The second round of the CIF Girls’ D1 Championship set the stage for a team that is hungry to prove they will come back stronger and more experienced next year despite the 4-0 loss against the Highlanders. South Gate’s Cinderella story comes to an abrupt end, but they do so with class and dignity. The Rams finished their season with a respectable 21-7-2 record, first in their Eastern league.

Making the postseason is not out of the ordinary for The Granada Hills Highlanders. However, it hasn’t been since the 2019 to 2020 season that the Highlanders have finished first in the West Valley League. Under the direction and guidance of new head Coach Guilherme Mitrovitch the Highlanders earned the number one seed going into postseason. The collective play, confidence, and ball distribution of the Highlanders is key for their success thus far. Against South Gate, Granada demonstrated their composure and experience as they took an early lead in the first half with three goals. The positive ball possession and switch of play by the Highlanders had the Rams on their heels the entire match. With combination plays, passes that penetrated the backline of South Gate, the Highlanders got another goal in the second half. Goals came from sophomore Yasmin Guemmat (assisted by Haley Mallas), junior Haley Mallas (assisted by Yasmin Guemmat), and senior Hazel Caro in the first half. In the second half freshman Aitana Barajas finished the game with a goal inside the eighteen (assisted by freshman Lliana Velasco). Granada moves on to the quarter finals with style and with confidence, playing their best football in front of their supporters. This new chapter in the history of the program is still being written and with the experience and success of Coach Mitrovitch, it is safe to assume the Highlanders are barely hitting their stride. The pieces are coming together for Granada and it is happening when it matters most, playoffs.

Coach Mitrovitch is excited about moving forward into the next round and believes the Highlanders still haven’t played their best. “Stay hungry, don’t get carried away by one performance. Stay humble, composed, and keep improving because we haven’t played our best yet.” Granada Hills and South Gate were positive and respectful to one another and although a competitive match, both teams demonstrated sportsmanship.

For Coach Hidalgo, his final thoughts were “This is a new process. Moving from division two to division one is a learning adjustment. Our Seniors have set the bar high and we are finishing our season with our heads held high. I’m proud of the work they put in, and this division is where our girls belong.”

The victory for Granada Hills over South Gate advances the Highlanders into the quarter finals where they will face the Taft Toreadors in the next round. Granada Hills will host the quarter finals of the CIF LA City Section Girls’ Soccer Division I Championship. Taft and Granada Hills will compete at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday Feb, 17 at John Elway Stadium.

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