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Top two teams will meet in showdown Friday
Two of the highest scoring teams in the county will meet Friday when No. 1 San Clemente travels to Lake Forest to meet No. 2 El Toro in a nonleague match.
Together the Tritons (17-1-1) and the Chargers (16-1) have combined to scored 112 goals. The Tritons have bragging rights heading into the game, knocking in 59 goals this season. They have scored 25 in their last six games, giving them a 3.10 goals per game average.
This past weekend, the Tritons were in Phoenix, playing in the Arizona Showcase. They won the tournament, beating one of the best teams in the nation along the way – Brophy Prep.
During the tournament, the Tritons, ranked No. 6 nationally by Maxpreps, scored nine goals in one game, four goals in two others and shut out three of their opponents.
The Tritons might just have the deepest program in the county because while the varsity team was rolling through the tournament in Arizona, San Clemente’s frosh/soph and JV teams won their respective divisions at the Zach Butcher Memorial Tournament at Mission Viejo High School.
After posting some big results in some big games, such as beating the top-ranked team in Arizona in Brophy Prep, San Clemente coach Mike Pronier is worried that his team might not be as focused as it should be when facing a quality opponent such as El Toro.
“My main concern would be for the kids not to 'bounce' after coming off the excitement of winning the Arizona Showcase,” he said. “This is where my coaches, Shea Weber and Chris Wagaman, really help in getting the kids focused and prepared mentally before a contest.”
Five of the top 10 goal scorers will be in the field, in Friday’s game, led by San Clemente senior forward Gage Zerboni, who has 19 goals. That puts him seven goals clear of Dakoda Muta of Marina and his San Clemente teammate Blayne Martinez (San Clemente) who are tied for second. Both players have scored 12 goals.
Three Chargers are in a five-way tie for sixth. James Suri, Nick DiMato and Michael Bryant each have scored nine times for El Toro.
Those three players haven’t faced a defense like the Tritons’. In 19 games this season, San Clemente has only allowed nine goals, which means this team is off to a better start than the one that won a Southern Section and Regional championship in 2011. That team gave up 15 goals in the same amount of games.
“The game versus El Toro will be a test to find our balance between trying to close them down and what chances we take going forward,” Pronier said. “I’d like to believe that they will have trouble penetrating our defense, and dealing with what we have offensively, but that’s why we play the game.”