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Servite has breakthrough in finals against El Toro
DOWNEY – Servite coach Jon Spencer was understandably tense before Saturday night’s CIF-SS Division 1 boys soccer championship against El Toro.
The Friars had come close to the ultimate goal before – they lost in the final in 2013 and in the semifinals in 2014, both years with Spencer at the helm.
This time, they left no doubt as to which team deserved to hoist the championship plaque.
Servite dominated from start to finish en route to a 2-0 win over the Chargers at Warren High, finally taking home the title that had eluded them in recent years.
“I can relax finally,” Spencer said. “I’m really proud of these guys. They reached their goals. You go through all the ups and downs through a long season, and these guys have accomplished what they set out to achieve.”
The Friars were in control in all phases of the game. The offense was in constant attack mode, while the defense thwarted all of El Toro’s scoring chances.
Roman Manning got the scoring started in the 11th minute. Garrett Amador collected the ball 25 yards out and put a through ball on Manning’s left foot.
Manning took one dribble and took a low shot into the right corner, past the outstretched hands of El Toro goalie Mac Hutchins to give the Friars a 1-0 lead.
“Roman had an excellent game,” Spencer said. “All of our attacking players just put in a full game that we were looking for. Our team looked sharp and fit – everything that you’d want in a championship game.”
Servite’s defenders consistently won balls in the air and relentlessly pressured El Toro’s attackers. The Friars dominated possession and outshot the Chargers, 12-2.
Servite’s second goal came in the 62nd minute after El Toro’s Hutchins was called for a foul in the penalty box. Oscar Flores booted the penalty shot down the middle to give the Friars a commanding 2-0 lead.
After two years of coming up short, the celebration on the Servite sidelines was exuberant, a mixture of elation and relief.
“It’s been a process,” Spencer said. “These guys definitely have been fighting hard to do it. This year we were just really well balanced.
“These players, they’re just really good at every position, and they did an awesome job.”