Santana Propels No.13 Santiago Past No.17 Los Alamitos

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Santa Ana –  In a game between two top 20 teams in search of their first victory, Santiago beat Los Alamitos 11-7 on Saturday at Foothill High School in the OC Invitational.

Ruben Santana led the way for Santiago with five goals and two assists. The Sharks also got contributions from Gabe Benso (three goals), Ben Hamilton (two goals and an assist) and John Plys (one goal and an assist). Logan Yost made 15 saves for the Sharks.

“Yost is a beast. He is the most humble, he’s a great leader, he’s a quiet kid, but every year he’s gotten better and better. I am just so proud of him. He played lights out today and saved our butts today,” Santiago Coach Keith Parr said. “We actually came out strong, had a really good warm up and played as a team today. We hustled on ground balls, cleared the ball well and we turned the ball over less. I also thought the intensity was there as well.”

Los Alamitos was led by Trenton Jones who had two goals and two assists while Ethan Campos, Julian Loe, Lincoln Frazier (one assist), Thomas Padova and Ed Shean (one assist) each had one goal apiece. Cullen Murray made eight saves for the Griffins.

The first quarter got off to a rainy and slow start, as both teams could only score once in the opening quarter.

After the first quarter, the Sharks were no longer in danger, as they outscored the Griffins 4-1 in the second quarter to take a 5-2 lead into halftime and eventually pulled away from there.

The Sharks, in just their third year as a CIF-sanctioned program, continue their quest for a third straight playoff when they travel Mater Dei on Monday at 7:30 p.m. Later on in the week, the Sharks play at Vista Murrieta on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and Newport Harbor at home on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“It was mainly on the offensive side where we got the looks, but we couldn’t finish and put it in the back of the net,” Los Alamitos co-captain Sean Kenneally said in the loss to Santiago. “Defense, we’ve been working pretty well the past few weeks with our rotations and just communication. I think we’re fine.”

The next game for Los Alamitos (0-3) is Tuesday at reigning county champion Foothill at 5 p.m. The Griffins also open up Sunset League play at Edison on Saturday at noon.

Last year, the Griffins finished in second place in the five-team league at 5-3, one game behind first-place Huntington Beach. Kenneally believes his team can turn its season around despite the struggles.

“We don’t know what they’re [Edison] going to be since [the Sunset League] scrambled with new coaches. We just need to come out like it’s Newport [Harbor] last year at our home game and come out firing,” Kenneally said.

No.17 Los Alamitos, on the other hand, hasn’t had it easy, as they are still in search of their first victory of the 2018 season. Some can argue that the Griffins’ losses are against quality teams such as No.14 Great Oak, No.1 (in LA) Loyola and No.13 Santiago.