Sunny Hills wins, moves into first in summer league tourney

PLACENTIA – Winning the first CIF-SS boys soccer championship in almost 30 years for Sunny Hills created a bit of a problem for Coach Mike Schade.

Success, he said, made the Lancers struggle “to put their feet back on the ground” during the first few games of the Sunny Hills summer league tournament, lacking the focus that delivered 62 goals in 28 games this past winter.

“It has been difficult. I have been having to challenge them,” Schade said. “You love the fact that it (a championship) brings pride back to your program. It has been slow for us so far, but we want to keep that tradition going.”

With each game, Schade said he has been changing the system to try to make the Lancers’ game plan fit this group of players.

Schade might be on to something. Sunny Hills is beginning to show its championship-winning form once again, claiming sole possession of first place in the tournament standings with a 1-0 victory against previously unbeaten Valencia on Thursday at Valencia High.

“This was an interesting game,” Schade said. “It was about positioning and shape and who had the ball. It was a great play at the end.”

With two minutes remaining, Hugo Quiroz won a challenge at midfield for Sunny Hills and passed the ball to Diego Useda, who began a counterattack, eventually crossing the ball to Bronny Toledo, who delivered the game winner.

The Lancers have scored the most goals in the month-long tournament (14) and hold a plus-10 goal differential.

The Lancers haven’t clinched first-place in the standings as they close out pool play with perennial Orange League power Katella on July 7.  The Knights were the third-highest scoring team in summer league entering Thursday, having knocked in nine goals in five games.

For now, Schade likes the direction his team is headed.

“We made a few adjustments at the end, changing our formation,” Schade said, “and it worked, which is good.”

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