The South Coast League wars resumed on Thursday night with the Tesoro Titans hosting the Aliso Niguel Wolverines on warm St Patty’s evening. With all five teams eyeing playoff spots, expect every SCL league game this season to be played with must-win intensity. Thursday’s game was no exception. Brian Graves picked up a hat trick and Jason Moreta handed out four assists to lead Tesoro to a 7-5 victory and an early step in the South Coast League race.
The Wolverines struck first when Garrett Hoang (2g) scored in the first quarter to put Aliso on the board. Jonathan Gibson (2g) responded by collecting a feed from Moreta and ripping one in the upper corner to tie the game. Braden King (1a) then fed Graves (3g, 1a) to give Tesoro a 2-1 lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter played out much like the first with both teams working hard for every point, and neither team able to create much separation from the other. Once again, Hoang (2g) opened the scoring. This time after aggressively slicing through the Titan’s D, finishing with a great elevator shot to tie the game at two-a-piece. The quarter stayed knotted past the midpoint until Moreta fed Graves who netted his second to make it 3-2 Titans. Aaron White (1g) responded quickly with an unassisted goal to tie it again, 3-3 before Graves completed his hat trick in the final minute to put the Titans ahead 4-3 just at halftime.
It was back and forth in the third, but only the Wolverines got on the board. Jake Lombardo (1a, 1g) scored an unassisted goal halfway through the quarter and then followed it with a feed to Tanner Clarke (1g) to put Aliso up 5-4 with 12 minutes left to play.
In the 4th, Tesoro found their rhythm and tied it back up 5-5 with an unassisted goal by Cole Spooner (1g). Despite plenty of great offense, defense and goaltending by both teams in the last quarter, only Tesoro could find the back of the net. Moreta first fed Gibson for the 6-5 go-ahead goal and then fed Ryan Harrington to make the final score 7-5, Tesoro Titans.
Next up: The South Coast League wars continue on Tuesday. Tesoro (3-1; 1-0) travels to Capistrano Valley (4-1; 0-0). Aliso Niguel (3-2;0-1) plays Trabuco Hills (2-2; 0-1).