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San Clemente earns top seed in Division 1
San Clemente, which went 25-2-1 during the regular season and won its second consecutive South Coast League championship, was the No. 1 seed in Division 1 when the CIF-SS boys soccer playoff parings were announced Monday.
The Tritons will be home for their first-round game on Friday. They will play the winner of Wednesday's wild-card game between Leuzinger of Lawndale and Lakewood.
San Clemente, which set single-season school records for goals scored (78) and shutouts (18), will try to duplicate what the Tritons did in 2010-11 – winning both the CIF-SS Division 1 and So Cal Regional championships.
"The team in 2011 took a while to focus in on the job at hand (in the playoffs)," San Clemente coach Mike Pronier said in an email. "This team has been more open, from the beginning, as to what they will need to do to make a run in the playoffs."
Three players from the 2010-11 championship-winning team are in this year's starting lineup: Gage Zerboni, Oscar Vasquez and Dylan DiGiacomo. Zerboni has been the leader this season, scoring a county-high 25 goals and adding 17 assists.
"Gage has not only been a leader statistically, but serves as an emotional leader off the field," Pronier said. "I think this team has done well so far because it has been fairly united from the beginning."
Quite possibly no team showed its unity better on the field than Santa Margarita. The Eagles (18-3-4) recently lost three players because of a hazing scandal, yet they went undefeated after that and won their first Trinity League title since 2008. It is the first championship for Wade Fraser since he started coaching the team in the fall of 2008.
The Eagles will be home for the first round of the playoffs, facing the winner of the Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley-Laguna Hills wild-card game.
"This team does not have any quit in them," Fraser said. "The boys have been confident in their ability all year. Add a championship to that confidence, and I think we could be very dangerous in the playoffs."
The same could be said for Santa Ana Valley (16-63) and Century (11-9-4), which are seeded second and third, respectively, in Division 3. The seedings could have been reversed.
Century would have won the Orange League championship after beating Santa Ana Valley earlier this month, but the Centurions had to forfeit two games because one of their players was also playing for an adult league team during the high school season, which violates a CIF-SS rule.
"What started as genuine disappointment I think has been turned into focus on the bigger price" Century coach Bruce Silverman said in an email. "They realize the path is going to be harder, but I think they will be up for the challenge.
"As long as we can take it one game at a time, I certainly think this team is capable of getting to the final, but anything can happen along the way."
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