The Golden Knights dropped to 2-7 on the season after advancing to the CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals and capturing the CIF Southern California Division II Regional championship last season. Usually, it’s the Golden Knights who create the breaks and scoring opportunities to offset any possible slumps.
That hasn’t been the case this season, though the Golden Knights have played formidable opponents that have included El Camino Real, Brophy Prep, San Jose Bellarmine Prep, Santa Barbara and Harvard-Westlake.
“It’s been our story of the season,” said St. Francis veteran Coach Glen Appels, whose team has scored one goal in its last four matches and lost six in a row. “We just can’t get that goal.
“The problem has been that we give up a goal and we can’t seem to get it back. We are not far away, so we have to just keep plugging away.”
Life in the Mission League isn’t easy. Normally, there are at least four quality teams that vie for the league championship right to the final week of the regular season. Harvard-Westlake (10-2-3) would like nothing more than to be in the conversation for league supremacy this season.
The Wolverines opened the scoring in the 38th minute. Senior midfielder Jesse Mirman headed in a corner kick by Victor Kroh past St. Francis starting goalkeeper Hector Carranza.
“They get that goal because we didn’t mark,” said Appels, whose team placed fourth in league last season. “We needed to get the ball cleared and we didn’t do that.”
Appels inserted freshman goalkeeper Luca Coppola into the lineup in the second half and he made three point-blank stops in the first eight minutes to keep the St. Francis in the match.
St. Francis nearly tied the match at 1 in the 66th minute. St. Francis senior midfielder Dante Ramunno got around a pair of Harvard-Westlake defenders and threaded a perfect pass down low to senior midfielder Joel Ingram. Ingram fired a shot that struck the top of the crossbar and went out of play.
“It’s just not going our way right now,” said St. Francis senior defender Max Cadena, who earned All-Area and All-CIF accolades last season. “We have a very strong team and we have to be willing to fight right to the end.”
Harvard-Westlake senior goalkeeper Alex Silverman finished with four saves. Silverman preserved the shutout when he speared a low shot by Cadena with about 90 seconds left in the match.
The teams will again meet at 5 p.m. Jan. 25 at Harvard-Westlake. St. Francis will next face host Chaminade in a league match at 5 p.m. Friday.