by Tim Burt
OC Sports Zone
Servite’s boys soccer team kept its hope alive for a CIF Division 1 title alive with another outstanding post-season effort Tuesday evening in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.
The Friars jumped out to a 2-0 lead and then went on to defeat University 3-1 at Uni to advance into the semifinals on Saturday at 3 p.m. at home vs. Cathedral.
“I am proud of these boys,” said Servite Coach Jon Spencer. “We have been through quite a storm this year of challenges. We played a really hard schedule, the hardest out there and it prepared us for tonight. We are thankful that we won.
“That does not take anything away from University High School. They were excellent. Coach (Martin) Wallwork should be proud of what they did. They played excellent soccer. I think that we showed we were ready.”
The team’s leading scorer junior Jesus Melgoza, scored Servite’s first goal in the middle of the first half. It was his third goal in three playoff matches. Melgoza also had an assist on Servite’s second goal, scored by Lex Leathem to make it 2-0.
University got back into the match on a goal by Gabe Hertel with 6:12 remaining in the contest, but Servite’s Kevin Sanchez sealed the win with a goal with under two minutes left, sending the Friars to the semfinals for the first time since 2015, when they won the Division 1 crown.
“That was the most goals we’ve scored in a little bit,” Spencer said. “We’ve been in tight games in the Trinity League and in the pre-season. I think tonight we could have scored a couple more. Our guys came to play. They responded really well. It’s a group effort.”
Spencer added that midfielder Uriel Sanchez also played well and contributed to the victory. “He stepped up big-time tonight,” Spencer said.
The Friars and Melgoza came ready to play from the start.
“As a great team, we put in an effort and we worked until the whistle blew, except for those last 10 minutes, even myself, we got a little bit relaxed and then they got that cross in and that goal in and that woke us up again,” Melgoza said. “We had a couple shots we could have made. Eventually, we made that last one which made it 3-1.”
“We’ve gone through everything. Coach Jon Spencer put in a really strong schedule which really well prepared us as a team.”
University battled until the end and was hoping to ride the momentum of a second round upset over top-seeded San Clemente.
“The better team won,” Wallwork, the University coach said. “We were good and I thought we competed real well. I thought there was just a little bit of mental fatigue. Inside that locker-room, we believed we could beat anybody out there. It was a good game, I’m proud of my guys.
“Some people look at it as overachieving, we don’t think so. We were exactly where we knew we would be. There was no fear from us, we know what we have here. I think people kind of made a mistake of looking past us a little bit. There is some talent out there. The boys are heartbroken as you would be losing in the quarterfinal.”