Coby Cueva of Santa Margarita, left, and JSerra's Carlos Solorio battle for the ball during the second half at Rancho Santa Margarita Tuesday.

Santa Margarita all business in victory over JSerra


RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA – As soon as he walked into the team room on Tuesday, Santa Margarita boys soccer coach Wade Fraser could tell something was different.

Normally, the Eagles are relaxed, having a good time laughing and joking. But this time, his team was all business. The determination, Fraser said, could be seen in his players’ eyes. First place in the Trinity League was on the line.

From the start, the Eagles came out on the attack, and in the sixth minute, Sean Goode gave Santa Margarita a lead that it would never give up as the host No. 3 Eagles beat No. 4 JSerra, 3-1, to sweep their season series with the Lions.

Goode had a role in the Eagles’ third goal, too. He took a shot at the far post, which was saved by JSerra’s keeper, Gerardo Berber, but the rebound went right to Brenden Hickey, who set the final margin.

With one game on Thursday against St. John Bosco, the Eagles are in first place, two points ahead of the Lions. In the teams’ last meeting, Santa Margarita shutout the host Braves, 2-0. JSerra closes out its season against Orange Lutheran.

“We aren’t celebrating yet. I told the boys to enjoy this win tonight, but tomorrow the focus is on Bosco. We have to win one more game to take the league championship,” Fraser said. It would be the Eagles’ first league championship since 2008, Curt Bauer’s final season coaching the Eagles.

“To get a championship in the this league is a huge accomplishment. Every game is a battle,” Fraser said. “For us to be in this position, I am very, very proud of the boys.”

In the opening minutes of the first half, the Eagles were able to get behind the Lions’ defenders, and find plenty of space in the middle of the final third. JSerra coach Davor Fabulich said, starting slow has been a problem for his team this season.

And in the sixth minute, Cade Kearn found Goode alone on the left side and put a 30-yard pass on Goode’s foot. Goode ran to the top of the box where Berber knocked the ball away with a sliding tackle. The ball, however, continued to slowly roll toward an empty net, and it went in before the Lions defenders could sprint back and clear it.

“They finished their opportunities,” Fabulich said. “We didn’t. That was the difference.”

What happened in the 26th minute is a good example of that. Victor Rodriguez unleashed a curling line drive at the Eagles’ goal, but just at the ball was getting ready to dip under the crossbar, Chandler Kirby batted it out for a corner kick, which Michael Cronk headed to the far post where an Eagles defender was waiting to clear it.

The Lions came within inches of tying the game in the 48th minute when Ether Bustos redirected a pass from JSerra forward Jonathan Fabulich wide of the near post. The next minute, Ben Draheim gave the Eagles a 2-0 lead.

“I thought we were really ready,” Davor Fabulich said.

The Lions, though, got back in the game when Andres Mendoza drew a foul in the box, setting up a penalty kick which Ivan Canales drilled inside the left post in the 66th minute, bringing the Lions to with a goal of the Eagles, 2-1.

Not too long before that, JSerra’s had another good chance to score when Bustos collided with Kirby, who made four saves for Santa Margarita, right on the 18-yard line. The ball squirted free after the impact and got behind Kirby, but before Bustos could track it down, it was cleared by the Eagles.

“I thought it was a good hard-fought game back and forth,” Fraser said. “We were ready to go.”

In another Trinity League match:

Servite 2, St. John Bosco 0: Felipe Silva and Mike Wolitski each scored and Joey Gober and Esen Harris each had an assist for the host Friars (10-8-7, 3-2-4).

In the Sea View League:

No. 1 El Toro 7, San Juan Hills 0: Roger Howard had a goal and an assist for the Chargers (24-1-1, 7-0-1). Michael Bryant, Jeff Dunn, Brandon Le, Indie Ogle, Brian Soufi and James Suri also scored.

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