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ED CRISOSTOMO, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Sylmar's Edrai Gar celebrates after scoring his second goal of the game as Servite's Zane Rojas looks away during the second half of the CIF Southern California Regional Division II championship game at Yorba Linda High. Sylmar won, 3-1.

Servite stunned by Sylmar in regional final

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

YORBA LINDA – The dejected image of defeat spread evenly across the faces of the Servite boys soccer team as it staggered off the pitch at Yorba Linda High on Saturday.

The top-seeded Friars’ CIF Southern California Regional Division II title dreams were deflated by a tenacious Sylmar club, the No. 6 seed, which defeated Servite, 3-1.

As the Friars shuffled toward the sideline, many masked their tears with outstretched jerseys. For a squad ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 4 in the nation by Maxpreps, the promising season was over.

Powered by a pair of second-half goals from Edrai Garcia, Sylmar captured its first regional title.

“It’s a heartbreaker,” Servite coach Jon Spencer said. “These guys put absolutely everything they had into this season.”

The Friars played without five key players, including starting goalkeeper Keith Murphy, who were competing in the US Youth Soccer National League. Murphy had four shutouts in the postseason.

Senior Matt Luberski filled in and played admirably, collecting five saves.

“This start obviously meant everything to me,” Luberski said. “My best friend is Keith Murphy. I watch him start every game, and I always live in his shadow. It was a good feeling to start ... but everything broke down in the second half.”

Servite allowed just four goals in the playoffs before the final, but with the score tied 1-1 heading into the second half, the Friars failed to contain Garcia.

In the 59th minute, Gabriel Cobral, controlling a free-kick, swept down the right sideline and connected with Garcia in the middle of the box. The senior promptly sent the shot deep into the left side net from 14 feet out.

“We made a couple of mistakes and they executed on them,” Spencer said. “We’ll look back on the film to find out we could have done better.”

Sylmar (23-7-5), the CIF-L.A. City Division II champion, was at it again 11 minutes later.

Pablo Fabion laced a corner kick from the right arc, deep into the goal box, and Garcia, squatting at an angle between a pair of defenders, drove a header inside the near post to put the match out of reach.

Servite (27-3-1) led for a short period when in the fourth minute Garrett Amador scored on a blur from 15 feet away. Sylmar’s Alexis Gomez, though, converted on a penalty kick in the 17th minute to tie the match.

“We have a really bright future in front of us,” Spencer said. “We lost today, but all of these guys are winners. There are no excuses. We played our absolute best, but it just wasn’t enough.”


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