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Top honors for Knights

Soccer: Seven St. Francis High athletes bestowed with All-Mission League recognition.

March 22, 2011|By Charles Rich,

GLENDALE — If he wanted better results on the field, he first needed to take the initial steps toward improvement off the field.

In the case of St. Francis High sophomore soccer player Mark Verso, it meant hitting the weight room with the goal of improving his conditioning so he could be a constant threat between the lines for the Golden Knights. It worked quite well for the forward.

"I didn't see the results last year, but I did practice hard," said Verso, who was named the All-Mission League Offensive Player of the Year following a 22-goal season. "I started to work out hard and the added strength and size started to show and that helped me get to more balls from which I got real good passes from my teammates.


"I wanted to help us win a league championship, but this is a great achievement and honor."

Verso, who also contributed six assists for 50 total points, was one seven Golden Knights to earn all-league accolades. Thomas Banks, Jake LaPorte and Sean Fitzpatrick were selected to the first team. Jeff Quezada, Derek Bell and Eric Bocanegra secured second-team honors, as voted on by the league's seven coaches.

St. Francis finished 15-10, 9-3 in league for second place behind Loyola. It advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division I quarterfinals under Coach Glen Appels.

Appels, who has had his share of players through the years pick up all-league honors, said Verso brought the Golden Knights an added offensive dimension.

"What he was able to do was quite an accomplishment," Appels said. "He worked hard in the offseason to improve his game.

"He went out there and found ways to score and he's got that physical presence and he can dominate. He's well deserving of the award."

LaPorte and Fitzpatrick proved to be worthy defenders for the Golden Knights, who contended for the league crown until the final week of the season. The Golden Knights finished with five shutouts, including four in league.

Banks, a junior midfielder, collected four assists. LaPorte and Fitzpatrick, both seniors, each had one assist.

"Thomas was our most consistent guy and you always knew what kind of effort you were going to get from him," Appels said. "He kept the midfield together and he added some offense for us.

"Jake is definitely not your prototypical defender. He's not big, but he uses his quickness so well. He knows what needs to be done.

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