Anaheim- The No. 7 Servite Friars (1-0) escaped a late surge from No. 18 Newport Harbor (0-1) with a nail-bitting 6-5 win Saturday afternoon to begin the season. Both the Friars and the Sailors had a bunch of chances late to add on to their goal totals but ultimately Servite defensively buckled down when it needed to before the clock hit zero.
After trading back and fourth scores in the first quarter, midfielder Alex Paz laced one into the net with 1:18 left in the frame, which gave the Friars an early 3-2 advantage. The second quarter was all Servite, with the Friars scoring three unanswered goals to bring their lead up 6-2 at the half.
“Our guys definitely came out in the first half and got the job done,” said Servite head coach Tom O’Leary. “Second half we played behind, totally going away from our game plan and played behind.”
The third quarter was an overall quiet one for both teams. Newport Harbor’s Race Mooers’ scored the only goal of the frame, cutting the Friars lead to three.
The Sailors continued to chip away in the fourth quarter. While the Friars offense stayed cold, Newport Harbor added two more tallies including a late clutch late goal by attackman Jared Rabin to close the gap to 6-5. Following, Robin’s goal, the Sailors continued to pressure the Friars and make them sweat. However, it wasn’t enough as Jakob Decano stood tall in net for the Friars with clutch saves late, giving the Friars their first win of the season.
“You definitely see the growth and maturity in [Decano] and his playing style,” O’Leary said.
A major storyline from the game was the number of penalties both teams committed throughout the game. Newport Harbor committed six penalties total (all in the second quarter), while Servite had 10 (six of which came in the second half).
O’Leary believed that mental errors caused many of the penalties.
“At a certain point, some of the stuff is mental errors and staying mentally tough and teaching these kids how to be mentally tough,” O’Leary said. “Can’t be doing that stuff when the game is so close. We’ve got to maintain possession and we’ve got to slowly get back in our offense.”
The Friars were led offensively by attackman Zach Williams and midfielder Cole Brennan with two goals apiece. Paz and Attackman Carter Bays each had one goal and Attackman Jack Terrones notched one assist. Decano was clutch between the pipes with 10 saves, seven of which came in the second half. As a team, the Friars had multiple chances to score and add onto their lead with 37 total shots.
The Friars will return to the field Tuesday when they take on Great Oak in their first road game of the season. As for the Sailors, they return to action Wednesday for their home opener against El Dorado.