Freshman helps Los Alamitos stun Santa Margarita


RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA – There was plenty of excitement and exuberance as the clock finally hit zero at Santa Margarita on Tuesday.

It just happened to come from an unexpected source.

The Los Alamitos boys soccer team upset Santa Margarita, 1-0, in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs.

Usually in the playoffs, teams rely on senior leadership to get them through tough points in the game. But the Griffins’ biggest play of the game came from one of their freshmen.

About 13 minutes into the second half, Aron Rudich slipped the ball past Eagles goalkeeper Chandler Kirby.

“He’s a freshman and a phenomenal player,” Los Alamitos coach Donovan Martinez said. “Just being there with the open net; I was just saying ‘Please put it in, kid.' "

Rudich was at a loss for words after the game when trying to explain what it’s like being a freshman and making big plays on such a large stage.

“I can’t even describe it,” Rudich said. “It feels so good.”

The freshman might have been the Griffin who will appear on the box score as the lone goal scorer, but Ozvaldo Yanez was putting pressure on the Santa Margarita defense from start to finish.

Yanez and Luis Manzano barely missed on chances to make it a two-goal game late in the second half.

The Eagles (19-4-4) had multiple scoring opportunities in the first half but came up empty thanks to Los Alamitos goalkeeper Connor Fatone, who had six saves. Santa Margarita didn’t muster many scoring threats in the second half.

Kirby, who gave up the lone goal of the game, finished with eight saves.

The Griffins (21-3-6) will advance to the Division I quarterfinals and take on Loyola, who defeated West Torrance, 4-0, on Tuesday. The game will be at 5 p.m. on Friday at Loyola.

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