What once used to come so easy for the Servite boys soccer team has now become quite a challenge.
This season, the Friars are having a bit of a problem putting the ball in the goal.
After beating Upland, 1-0, and playing Leuzinger to a 1-1 tie in the semifinals of the JSerra Tournament of Champions, Servite has scored just four goals in its last seven games. By this time last year, the Friars had knocked in 25 goals, but they had Conner Bevans in the lineup.
Bevans, now a freshman at Gonzaga, finished last season with a county-leading 69 points, coming off of 27 goals and 15 assists.
Despite the lack of goals, Servite made it to next Saturday’s championship, edging Leuzinger on penalty kicks, 4-3.
Elijah Barajas scored the game-tying goal for the Friars (3-3-2) in the semifinals.
“I think the basis of our team is going to be on defense,” Servite coach Jon Spencer said. “We are trying to build a powerhouse defense first and foremost, and then hopefully, we can do the next things from there.”
In the quarterfinals, Servite really only had one good look at the goal. It came in the third minute when Mike Wolitski scored off a throw in from Zane Rojas.
After that, the Friars made some good passes and runs into the final third, but they just couldn’t seem to finish.
Servite did, however, have to play the majority of the game without one of their most experienced midfielders after senior team captain Kevin Engesser picked up an early yellow card.
Spencer said that might turn out to be good for the team in the long run, however, as he was able to rotate some players into the game who might not have had a chance had Engesser not been booked.
Because the goals aren’t coming at last year’s pace, Spencer said the Friars are learning “that you have to fight for every minute of every game.” And that he said is good preparation for what is to come in the Trinity League.
“That’s what it is going to be like,” Spencer said. “Preparing ourselves in games that are tight and not easy is good for us.”
In other boys soccer:
No. 1 San Clemente 3, Santa Barbara 1: Blayne Martinez scored two goals and Gage Zerboni added another for the visiting Tritons (9-1-0) at the Santa Barbara High School Showcase.