Santa Margarita's Ben Draheim, right, tries to head the ball past Justin Smith of Laguna Hills in front of the Laguna Hills goal during Friday's game.
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Santa Margarita wins tough battle with Laguna Hills


RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA – Ben Draheim's first-half goal proved to be the difference in a physical and tightly contested game on Friday night as Santa Margarita opened the CIF-SS Division 1 boys soccer playoffs with a 1-0 victory over Laguna Hills at Santa Margarita High.

"Now these guys have a taste of what they can expect for the rest of the playoffs," Santa Margarita coach Wade Fraser said.

The Eagles (19-3-4) advance to face Los Alamitos on Wednesday in the second round. Laguna Hills finishes the season 12-11-4.


OCVarsity Hot Shots: Friday's soccer games


The Eagles' breakthrough came 26 minutes in when central forward Sean Goode played the ball out left to Draheim, who slipped his defender, cut in on his right foot and fired into the back of the net.

"When I made the run across the middle, their guys just kind of got confused, and it opened up some space," Draheim said.

Despite missed opportunities to add to the lead by Coby Cueva and Jake Fisher, one goal proved to be enough for Santa Margarita as its defense registered a shutout for the 15th time this season.

Laguna Hills forwards Derek Perez and Matt Rochford consistently challenged the host's backline with a combination of strength and speed but could never turn the chances into a goal. Rochford frequently pestered Santa Margarita, using his speed to get down the left flank.

"He's really technical on the ball; he's a good dribbler; he can create a lot of space for other players," said Santa Margarita defender Gavin Mulato, who was tasked with defending Rochford for most of the game.

Pressing for a goal late in the game, Laguna Hills made a change in goal, bringing starter Ricky Brown up to an attacking position, while Jacob Huber went into net.

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