OCEANSIDE – Winning isn't really the goal when Servite coach Jon Spencer enters the Friars in a boys soccer tournament.
Growth is what he is looking for. If the Friars leave as a better team from when they started, that is the only trophy Spencer needs.
Spencer said his team didn't show its true potential on Friday in the national pool championship match of the So Cal High School Classic, but the Friars showed a resilience that gives Spencer hope that they can once again be a factor in the postseason, battling back from a one goal deficit to beat host Oceanside, 2-1.
This is the first December tournament that Spencer has won in the five years that he has been coaching the Friars.
Afterward, the Friars chased Spencer around the field at Oceanside High for a few moments before they finally cornered their coach and drenched him with water.
"They were tough to play against. They sat in a lot, and we just had to be patient," Spencer said. "We are very well rounded in different facets of the game and that is good. The second half we pulled it together. It was a good team effort, but it was hard."
Corbin Mercado and Wilbert Valle both scored in the second half for Servite. Valle struck first, knocking in a penalty kick in the 42nd minute. His 12th goal of the season evened the score, 1-1. Mercado scored the game winner in the 65th minute flicking in a free kick from Tim Burke.
"But this is just one game in out long season. We are happy we won. Our kids are happpy, and it is good to win something," Spencer said. "But I would rather focus on winning the games at the end of the season."
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute when Donovan Wilson's 10-yard shot bounced off the left post and into the right side of the goal. And they had a chance to tie the game in the 74th when Connor Daugherty lined up to take a penalty kick, but Kevin Barrera made the correct choice, diving to his right to make the save for the Friars.
"He really stepped up and performed well today," Spencer said. "He has been iron for us. He read it well and moved quickly. We were able to fight them off at the end."
JV Soccer also won SO Cal HS Classic by defeating San Clemente in penalty kicks, 4-2 after ending regulation play in a 0-0 tie. Kyle Pearce, Vince Rubino, Brett Lux and Cade Fuller made PKs for the JV Friars while GK Zac Grisotti stopped two. JV advanced to the finals after defeating Cathedral 3-0 in the semis while only conceding one goal in the four-game tournament.
Frosh/Soph Soccer finished as So Cal HS Classic Runner-Ups after falling to St. Augustine in penalty kicks.