High-scoring El Toro holds on for victory


El Toro coach Doug Franco has seen it happen before this season. His boys soccer team takes a big lead, puts it in cruise control for a while and the final score ends up being a lot closer than it should be.

Wednesday’s pool play game at the Zach Butcher Memorial Tournament is a perfect example.

Central of Fresno scored two goals in the final 12 minutes and the No. 3 Chargers watched what appeared to be an easy shutout victory turn into a 3-2 triumph instead at Mission Viejo High.

“They earned it, but we didn’t respond to it (the first Central goal) well, and our intensity dropped,” Franco said. “We had some complacency. We thought we had the game won. That is something we have to focus on, finishing games better than we have been. When we are up 3-0 we can’t let another team in so easily.”

But with the way that El Toro (14-1-0) has been scoring goals this month, the Chargers can afford to take a couple of minutes off.

After Wednesday's game, they have scored 49 goals in 15 games, and two of the top five goal-scorers in the county play for El Toro – Michael Bryant and Nicolo D’Amato. D’Amato scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the 54th minute when he wrapped a 20-yard free kick around Central’s four-man wall and inside the near post. It was his ninth goal of the season, tying him for third with Bryant and Jesus Ibarra (Kennedy).

But after that, Central stepped up its pressure and in the 68th minute Dylan Ruscani redirected a pass from Omar Rocha to bring Central to within 3-1. And then with three minutes to go, Rocha set the final margin.

Trenton Rainone scored in his second consecutive game for El Toro when he gave the Chargers a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute. Roger Howard picked up the assist, putting the ball right on Rainone’s boot as he ran into the box. Howard also set up Jake Salvat’s goal in the 46th minute, giving him three assists in the Chargers’ last two games.

The Chargers have a little extra motivation to win this tournament as it’s named after a former El Toro player who graduated in 2010 and died in an auto accident in March on Ortega Highway.

 “We definitely want to do well in his honor and pay tribute to him in a good way,” Franco said.

In another Zach Butcher Memorial game:

Corona del Mar 6, Irvine 0: Cameron Davis finished with a goal and three assists to lead the Sea Kings (5-3-2) in the pool play game at Mission Viejo High.

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