Defense was the name of the game out in Santa Margarita on Monday as ninth-ranked Tesoro (10-4, 3-2) survived a fourth quarter surge from sixth-ranked Santiago (10-5, 2-0) to win a nail-biting 5-4, defensive contest at Tesoro high school.
Colby Lynch (3g, 1a) scored the game-winning goal for the Titans with 50 seconds remaining in the game. As a team, Tesoro caused 10 turnovers on defense, led by Robert Enger and AJ Schur, who had three CTO’s apiece.
“We were moving our feet as quick as we’ve had all season long (on defense),” said Titans head coach Scott Grubert. “We were on our hands, we were moving our feet, and we weren’t overextending. We did get a couple of penalties where a couple of them were justified and we can say some weren’t justified, but that was happening all over the field.”
Tesoro got two goals in the first quarter and took an early 2-0 lead off the sticks of Aiden Farris (1g) and Ryan Ross (1g), with both Cole Pollard (1a) and Lynch getting respective assists.
The second quarter was mirror image of the first with Tesoro doubling their lead and holding the Sharks scoreless for another 12 minutes. Lynch scored both goals in the frame. His first goal was assisted by Carson Spooner (1a), who notched his 300th point in his high school career with the dish.
The Sharks started to find their stride in the third quarter with the first of three from junior Aidan Koenig (3g). Despite Santiago getting a ton of shots off in the third, they were virtually being shut down by freshman goalie Lucas Zelaya who recorded six of his 12 saves in the third quarter alone for the Titans.
Tesoro’s offense was shut out in the third, and most of the fourth quarter as the Sharks started to smell blood in the water. Bryan Parr (1g) cut the Titan lead in half with an unassisted goal almost halfway through the final frame, and Koenig tied the game with two goals within 30 seconds of each other and tied the game at 4 with 1:39 remaining.
After causing a turnover, the Titans got the ball back and called a timeout with a little over a minute remaining. From there, Lynch triumphed through Santiago’s physical defense and made a bounce shot past Sharks goalie Bradley Cutter to win the game 5-4.
“To take the beating that [Lynch] did coming around, he just took six-seven-eight hacks and just circled around,” Grubert said. “He’s our go-to guy, and sometimes he just comes through for us.”
Cutter was impressive for the Sharks between the pipes as well and had eight saves.
The Titans return to action Thursday in an important league match in San Clemente against the No. 10 Tritons. Meanwhile, Santiago will look to flip the script today at 5 p.m. with a road contest against Norco.