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Eagles stay focused despite reports of police probe
SANTA ANA – Television news crews usually don't show up at high school boys soccer games, but there was one on the Mater Dei campus before the Monarchs' game against Santa Margarita on Friday evening.
It was not the game or its impact on the Trinity League race that drew the interest of the TV crew.
The big story was a report the Santa Margarita's boys soccer program was the subject of a hazing investigation that was being conducted by the Honolulu Police Department and Orange County Sheriffs. The alleged incident reportedly led to the school dismissing three players from the team this week.
The Eagles, ranked No. 3 in the county, had every reason to be distracted, but they went out and beat the Monarchs, 1-0, to stay in second place.
Jake Fisher's goal in the 69th minute helped the Eagles (15-3-4, 4-0-3) remain two points behind first-place JSerra.
"These kids have heart. I knew it all along," Santa Margarita coach Wade Fraser said. "Am I impressed? No, I knew we could do it all along. I expected and we expected it of ourselves."
The alleged incident happened when the Eagles made a trip to Hawaii after Christmas to play two of Hawaii's top teams. When the Santa Margarita team returned Jan. 4, a complaint was filed with Honolulu Police Department.
The Orange County Sheriffs have been conducting the interviews in Rancho Santa Margarita on the request of the investigators in Hawaii.
Fraser declined to comment on the incident or the players who were allegedly involved. Three players who have been on the team's roster were not at the game Friday.
Despite the trying circumstances, Fraser said the mood on the team remained upbeat.
"We are getting results," he said. "We are undefeated in league, and we are pushing to win the league."
The Eagles took control of the action early. Sean Goode got behind the Monarchs defenders while making a near-post run, but his shot sailed just wide.
One minute later, Fisher crossed the ball in to the top of the 6-yard box and just missed hooking up with Coby Cueva, who tried to get a foot on the ball.
The first half came to a scoreless end when John Klinsmann got his fingertips on a free kick, knocking it over the crossbar for one of his four saves for Mater Dei (7-11-2, 1-4-2).
In the 75th minute, the Eagles tested Klinsmann again when Fisher came into the box on a breakaway, but Klinsmann leaped high and batted away the line-drive shot.
Twice in the second half, Alex Gonzalez tried to get his head on the ball during a Mater Dei set piece, but both times the Eagles' Kirby Chandler was able to punch the ball away.
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