San Clemente tops JSerra to reach final


SAN CLEMENTE - A day before his team’s Division I semifinal matchup against JSerra, San Clemente’s Oscar Hernandez had a good feeling about the game.

His gut feeling came to fruition in gut-check time for the Tritons (29-2-1). Hernandez scored the game-deciding goal in the 63rd minute of San Clemente’s 3-2 victory against JSerra (18-4-3) on Tuesday night at San Clemente.

"I'm just thrilled to get that shot. I called it yesterday," Hernandez said. "I knew I was going to score."

It appeared as if it was going to be a Tritons runaway in the first half. Bryce Kaminski and Colin McDermott scored goals four minutes apart to give San Clemente a 2-0 lead.

Alex Duarte answered for the Lions with a goal in the 29th minute.

It would stay 2-1 until Hernandez scored with 17 minutes left. Duarte also added a goal in the final minutes to make it a one-goal game.

San Clemente coach Mike Pronier felt a sense of relief after his team advanced to the finals for the second time in three years.

"We knew we wanted to get to the final," Pronier said. "I think that was the true gauge of this year. Anything less than getting to a final and the kids would’ve been disappointed."

San Clemente had plenty of scoring chances, but the Tritons were denied on multiple occasions by Lions goalkeeper Gerardo Berber. Dylan DiGiacomo didn’t face as many threats as Berber, but he was stellar nonetheless in keeping JSerra at bay.

The Tritons have won 12 games in a row and have outscored their four postseason opponents by a 16-5 margin. San Clemente will face Servite, which has allowed one goal in four playoff contests.

If Hernandez’s feelings stay true to form, the Tritons might end up with the crown.

"I think we have a strong enough team to beat anybody," Hernandez said. "I think we’re going to be champions."

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