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NICK AGRO , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Saddleback Valley Christian junior Bryson Westcott collides with Fillmore sophomore Jose Manuel Valdez during the CIF-SS Division 7 championship game at Warren High on Saturday.

Peek scores, but SVC can't keep up with Fillmore

STAFF WRITER

DOWNEY - There was one minute of action that might have changed everything for Saddleback Valley Christian on Saturday at Warren High.

Twice in those 60 seconds Fillmore defenders turned away shots by Brian Peek. Jesus Ballesteros denied the Warriors’ high-scoring forward first, using a bicycle kick to clear the ball as it was about to cross the goal.

Moments later, Marko Zavala leaped high for the Flashes, knocking away a Peek header that was heading for the right side of the goal.

“Sure, of course, that would have given us some confidence,” Saddleback Valley Christian coach Stephen Jennings said when asked about those near-misses for his team midway through the first half. “But at the same time, we knew that we get opportunities to score all of the time.”

Peek eventually scored, his 35th goal of the season, with a header in the second half, but Fillmore scored four times after that and cruised to a 5-1 triumph in the CIF-SS Division 7 boys soccer championship.

“For us, to get here is such a prideful accomplishment of what we have done all year and how hard we have worked and the way these boys have come together to work as a group,” Jennings said. “To be able to get to this point says a lot.”

Fillmore’s speed was its strength Saturday, making it hard for the Warriors (16-5-4) to keep up, especially on a counter attack, which is how the Flashes (20-3-3) took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.

After Fillmore prevented Kalani Cummins from curling a 30-yard free kick to Peek at the far post, the Flashes sprinted up the field, and about five seconds later Jose Luis Ruiz was celebrating a goal. Jackson Green tried to get in front of the ball to clear it for the Warriors, but the sophomore defender smashed into the post instead as the ball rolled across the line.

“We have a school of 300 kids,” Jennings said. “They have a school of thousands, and we are playing against a school that large in a division final. This is where you have the issue for balancing out divisions. Not everyone on our team is a soccer player.”

SVC does have a standout in Peek, and he was the target of every Warriors cross. He tied the score, 1-1, in the 48th minute.

Less than 30 seconds later, the Flashes were on top again, 2-1, as Miguel Martinez scored the first his two second-half goals. Jaime Zarate and Everardo Magana each had a goal in the final 24 minutes to set the final margin for Fillmore.

“This is by far the best team that we have played all year, and I am glad that we played them now,” Jennings said of Fillmore. “It is an opportunity to see where we need to get to.”

Contact the writer: ddottore@ocregister.com


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