Gardena High’s boys’ soccer team was riding high — until it was brought down by Marine League power Banning last week. At Banning High in Wilmington on Jan. 31, the Panthers were shut out by the Pilots 4-0. Coming home on Feb. 2, Gardena was unable to catch up with Banning with a 2-1 loss. At Rancho Dominguez Prep in Long Beach last Friday, the Panthers got back in in the winning column with a 3-0 shutout of the Lobos. In the Feb. 2 contest, the Pilots raced out to a 2-0 lead with about 20 minutes into the match with one goal each by Pablo Bernard and Alex Oropeza. The score remained that way into halftime. Gardena got into the scoreboard in the 50th minute when Anthony Vital shot the ball from about 10 meters out. Gardena had a few other attempts but failed. “It was a sloppy game,” Gardena head coach Elmer Membreno said. “Banning’s first goal took an unlucky bounce. On Monday (Jan. 31), I was unable to make the match for a personal commitment.”
Eynar Romero, Jonathan Poblano and Jesus Suarez each scored a goal in the Panthers’ win over Rancho Dominguez. Angel Munive had an assist. Goalkeeper Salvador Tojil recorded the shutout. Gardena closed Marine action at San Pedro on Wednesday. The Panthers already have a 2-0 win over the Pirates from two weeks ago at Gardena. The Panthers (11-3-4 overall and 5-2-2 in league) begin the CIFLos Angeles City Section playoffs next week. Membreno is uncertain which division Gardena will be in. “We could play Division I but, if not, we might have an option of playing in Division II, III or IV,” Membreno said.