Fryer: Battle pits top two in boys soccer


Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:

•It would be better if it had the added intensity of being a league match, but this will have to do. The top two ranked county boys soccer teams play each other Friday when No. 1 San Clemente plays at No. 2 El Toro at 3:30 p.m.

El Toro and San Clemente are in that 10-school Coast View Conference that places school teams into either the upper South Coast League or its lower Sea View League. San Clemente, CIF-Southern Section Division 1 champion in 2011, is in the South Coast League. El Toro faltered some since winning the CIF-SS Division 1 title in '09 and is in the Sea View League, but is definitely strong again in '13.

•"We're getting back to being successful," said El Toro coach Doug Franco, in his third season as the head coach at his alma mater, where he was an All-CIF player. "We're an attack-minded team. We believe our best defense is being a good offense and keeping possession of the ball."

Franco's assessment of San Clemente's Tritons: "They have a great coaching staff, they're very organized defensively, and in fact they're very organized all over the whole field. We'll try to break down their defense and see if we can get behind them." Franco said the Chargers have to keep tabs on San Clemente senior forward Gage Zerboni, who was All-Orange County first team last year.

•As for El Toro, Franco said if the Chargers are to prevail today they will need midfielder Nick D'Amato and defender Jeff Dunn to continue their stellar play. D'Amato has nine goals. Dunn, Franco said, "has been an organizing force for us on defense."

•San Clemente (16-1-1) last week won the championship of the Arizona Showcase in Scottsdale. The Tritons' only loss this season was to Carlsbad, which is No. 1 in's California rankings. San Clemente is No. 2, with El Toro at No. 11 just behind No. 10 Sunny Hills.

•El Toro is 16-1, with its only loss to Farmersville, which is near Fresno. The Chargers won three games in last week's Zach Butcher Memorial Tournament at Mission Viejo.

•Last season was the first since 1988 that an Orange County team did not win a CIF-SS boys soccer championship.

•Five county girls water polo teams will play in the Division 2 Showcase at Santa Margarita on Saturday. The event includes several teams in the CIF-SS Division 2 top 10. The schedule includes No. 2 Santa Margarita vs. No. 10 M.L. King of Riverside at 10 a.m., No. 8 San Clemente vs. No. 4 Santiago of Corona at 2:30 p.m., No. 1 El Toro vs. No. 7 Mater Dei at 4 p.m. and Rosary vs. Riverside Poly at 5:30 p.m.

•The annual mega-huge Five Counties Wrestling Tournament is Jan. 18-19 at Fountain Valley. It pretty much serves as a preview of the CIF state meet.

•While his points total is not the highest in county boys basketball, Brethren Chrisitan 7-foot-5 center Mamadou Ndiaye leads the county in scoring average. Ndiaye, a senior who signed with UC Irvine, is averaging 30.3 points a game.

•We start the new year with this advice to boys basketball players: Don't put yourself in position to be embarrassed by published reports of your obnoxious on-court behavior. You are just a high school basketball player who made a shot or blocked one. You did not cure cancer or invent time travel.

•The better matchups, on paper, in boys basketball today: St. John Bosco of Bellflower at JSerra, and Servite at Orange Lutheran (Trinity League); Huntington Beach at Fountain Valley (Sunset League); and Trabuco Hills at El Toro (nonleague).

•Westminster's boys basketball team sure is playing a challenging schedule. The Lions (6-8) today play host to county No. 7-ranked Tesoro. They already have lost to No. 2 Mission Viejo, Canyon and Santa Margarita, and beat Corona del Mar and Trabuco Hills.

•Mater Dei's baseball team will play in the 16-team National High School Invitational in North Carolina, in March. Mater Dei won the prestigious tournament last year.

•And you think the CIF-Southern Section is large now, with is geographical reach going from Bishop in the Sierras to Avalon on Catalina Island. The Southern Section once encompassed San Diego County schools, too – and even a school in Mexico.

•According to John Dahlem, former Orange County coach and principal and now a major-league mountaineer and CIF-SS historian, Tijuana's Instituto Tecnico Industrial, a boys boarding school where carpentry, electrical and mechanical skills were taught, was in the Southern Section for a few years. The school was located on the grounds of the old Agua Caliente gambling complex.

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