El Toro's Jeff Domenech saves the ball moments before Servite's Mike Wolitski attempts to make a goal during Wednesday's CIF-SS Division One second-round match at Servite High.

Servite continues late-season surge


ANAHEIM – The Servite boys soccer team believes everything is finally coming together at precisely the right time of the season.

The latest example of this belief came Wednesday evening at Servite when the Friars defeated third-seeded El Toro, 1-0, in the CIF-SS Division 1 second round.

“These guys, about two weeks ago, started believing,” Servite coach Jon Spencer said. “When you believe and you become a team and you work for each other, die for each other, success is right around the corner.”

The Friars (13-8-7) are riding a four-game winning streak during which they’ve conceded just one goal. Servite’s next challenge comes Friday in a quarterfinal matchup at Claremont.

Esen Harris scored the game-winning goal 26 minutes into an intensely physical contest. Felipe Silva curled a corner kick to the back post where Elijah Barajas headed it down into the middle of the box for Harris to knock home.

“The ball just popped up in front of me,” Harris said. “I was so focused that I didn’t see anything but the ball and it was just open net.”

The Chargers (25-2-1) suffered their first loss since early December, and it came as their high-powered offense was held scoreless for the first time all season.

El Toro’s Roger Howard nearly scored the opening goal in the 10th minute, but his shot was deflected away by Servite goalkeeper Keith Murphy. Masaki Ogikubu got a shot off the rebound but Murphy, who finished with six saves, gathered that one as well.

Senior Davis Brady led the stout Servite defense that frustrated Jason Cruz, Roger Howard, Michael Bryant and the rest of El Toro’s numerous attacking weapons.

“To get a shutout against such a high-scoring team it does loads for our confidence,” Brady said. “I think right now we’re finding our stride. It’s a good thing because at the beginning of the year we were a little slow to start but we’re finding our feet right now, and I think we could make a long run.”

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