Western shut outs Kennedy to advance to summer league semifinals

FULLERTON – The Western boys soccer team has only one goal – hang a league championship banner in the gym for the first time in the program's history.

That could be about happen this winter.

Usingprecise passing and an organized defense, the Pioneers shutout Kennedy, 1-0 in a Sunny Hills Summer League quarterfinal match on Thursday here at Sunny Hills high.

The Pioneers, the No. 2 seed in the tournament’s playoffs, will face third-seeded Valencia in a semifinal on Monday.

“I knew we were going to be good. We have a good group of seniors,” Western coach John Neeper said. “Our goal this summer is to get ready for league.”  

Senior-to-be Rene Santillan scored the game winner for the Pioneers (5-1-4), converting a penalty kick in the 52nd minute. Logan Dykes, Kennedy’s junior-to-be keeper, guessed right and lunged to his left, getting his fingertips on Santillan’s shot, but he could not stop the ball from hitting the back of the net.

Less than a minute later, Santillan had a chance to extend Western’s lead when he took a shot from the top of the box while Dykes was out of position, but Kennedy’s keeper managed to get in front of Santillan just in time to knock the ball away.

Had it not been for Dykes, Western would have cruised past the Fighting Irish (2-5-3) and into the semifinals. Tiwce during the match he stopped shots from close range.

Dykes' first pressure save came in the 16th minute when he just got his left hand on the ball to knock a Western shot clear of the far post at the last second.

Then in the second half, Santillan chested the ball down at the top of the 6-yard box and tried to slip a half volley between Dykes and the near post, but Dykes managed to turn the shot away. 

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