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Foothill wins second consecutive summer title
TUSTIN - He stands almost as tall as the goal he’s defending yet has the athleticism to effortless glide from one post to the other. There is an intimidation factor, Foothill coach Dave McAulay said, when facing Nathan Brown, the Knights’ senior captain, especially when a game heads into penalty kicks.
That’s how Friday’s championship match in the Foothill Summer League ended after the Knights and Mater Dei played to a 1-1 tie, and the Monarchs found out just how hard it can be to get a shot past the player, who McAulay said was the Knights’ MVP during this month-long tournament.
The Monarchs fired seven Pks Brown’s way, and he turned away three of them away to help Foothill edge the Monarchs, 5-4, and win the tournament championship on PKs for the second year in row.
“It is a major advantage having a guy like him. He does a great job. He is a tremendous athlete,” McAulay said.
Andrew Pimentel stopped two of the Knights’ PKs, and showed what the Monarchs’ strength might be this coming season – defense and goal keeping. Mater Dei only gave up a goal twice during the summer. One of them came in the 10th minute on Friday night during a furious 30 second span that saw one Foothill shot bounce off the post, another deflect off the crossbar and a third get knocked out for a corner kick, which Logan Hofer drilled in to give the Knights’ a 1-0 lead.
“Our defenders are a good group. They were pretty consistent throughout the summer,” Mater Dei coach Sean Gainey said. “They are mature and they worked really hard and they motivate the other guys to work even harder. I couldn’t have been happier. We didn’t drop a game this entire summer. As a group they put in a ton of work, and it is awesome when you put in everything and start to see results out of it.”
In the second half, Mater Dei put a lot of pressure on Brown and the Knights, and with 10 minutes to go, they drew a foul just outside the 18. The Knights stopped the free kick, but Brown, who finished with five saves, couldn’t get in position to deal with the rebound and Brandon Varela tied the game, 1-1.
“We kind of let them back into this game with that late goal there, but I am happy with the way that they played this summer,” McAulay said.
Last summer the Knights advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs after winning summer league, so does another championship mean another deep run into the post season? McAulay hopes so. But Foothill lost all of their attacking players except Dante Medina, so the Knights’ offense, McAulay said, is a bit of an unknown right now. When the Knights move the ball in the midfield, though, they seem to have a lot of success.
“But when we stop working hard and kind of get into the kick ball and longer balls, we struggle,” McAulay said. “It is about playing our game. Now we have an idea of what we have to work on before the start of the season.”