The Golden Knights will turn to junior Sean O'Connor, who has recorded
postseason victories against Lompoc Cabrillo and Irvine Northwood. The
nimble O'Connor has posted 12 shutouts this season.
One of St. Francis' strengths, spearheaded by seniors Sean DeGroot and
Justin Duncan. Sophomores Jeff Fawcett and Luke Postlewaite, who scored
the match-winning goal in the semifinals against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame
on Tuesday, should also play key roles.
A strong transition game has been a prevailing factor for St. Francis,
which lost its first two league matches. They boast one of the top
midfields in the area, highlighted by senior Donovan Schuil, Daniel
Paladini (11 goals and 13 assists) and Austin Cyr. Schuil scored the
match-winning goal in a quarterfinal contest in a 4-2 victory against
Pomona Ganesha on Feb. 23 and then scored against Notre Dame.
Scoring goals proved to be a bane during parts of the season for the
Golden Knights, but that's not the case anymore. There is plenty of
offense to choose from. Senior Ryan Shaw leads the area with 28 goals and
has scored 78 in his four-year career. Seniors Matthew Nicchitta and Alex
Mesrobian have complimented Shaw throughout the season.
An intangible for St. Francis Coach Glen Appels, who has routinely
substituted his players this season during crucial parts of a match to
keep his athletes fresh. Expect Appels to continue the trend today. Jon
Pierotti, Alex Ortiz, Carlos Marco, Joah Kederian and Robby Dow are
additional players Appels can employ. Ortiz has scored five goals and Dow
has tallied three.
Despite being in only its fourth year of existence and boasting just
its first senior class, Pomona Diamond Ranch brings a lot of skill and
experience into the school's first CIF championship contest in any sport.
The Panthers surprised a lot of people by knocking off top-seed and
previously unbeaten La Canada, 2-0, in Tuesday's semifinals, despite
being outshot and for the most part, outplayed under less-than-favorable
field and weather conditions.