El Toro pushed but avoids knockout punch


LAKE FOREST – It happens so rarely for the El Toro boys soccer team that Chargers coach Shawn Watts said his team forgets what it feels like to lose.

El Toro has been on the wrong end of the final score only five times in the past three seasons. With a record such as that, Watts said, sometimes it’s easy to take things for granted.

Central of Fresno sent the Chargers staggering with several good uppercuts Tuesday, but at the end the Chargers were the ones left standing. El Toro beat the visiting Grizzlies, 1-0, in a South Orange County Classic match.

“Sometimes you have to get hit in the chin to realize what you are playing for,” Watts said.

With a victory over Santa Margarita today at Mission Viejo, El Toro will claim its fourth consecutive championship in the six-team tournament.

Anthony Carney scored the winning goal against Central, converting a penalty kick in the final minute after Johnny Bryant was brought down in the box. The moment the referee awarded the PK, Carney was standing on the spot waiting for the ball.

“When the kid has the guts to step up for the team,” Watts said, “you got to let him have it.”

Mac Hutchins played a key role too, making six saves while posting his his fourth shutout in five games. He has allowed only one goal during that span.

Central tested the Chargers junior keeper throughout a match played in a steady rain. In the 16th minute, Hutchins batted away an 8-yard shot to the near post.

In the second half, he dropped the wet ball after hauling in a 45-yard free kick, but he knocked the ball away a moment before the Grizzlies could get off another shot.

“He has been our backbone the last two years,” Watts said.

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