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by Lou Ponsi

ORANGE — Scoring first is often a huge key to winning in the soccer playoffs.

So is making the most of your opportunities.

Servite’s boys soccer team did both of those things in its 3-1 victory over Trinity League foe Orange Lutheran in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship Saturday at El Modena High School.

The title is the second in three years for the Friars (18-6-2), who won the Division 1 championship in 2022, prior to the addition of the Open Division for the playoffs.

“We wanted to set the tempo,” Servite coach Eddie Soto said. “We wanted to instigate the rhythm of the game. We wanted to be the ones that are on the front foot. Right from the beginning of the game, we did that.”

Playing in the competitive Trinity League, which included splitting their two games with the Lancers, helped the Friars prepare for the playoffs, Soto said.

Luke Williams, Korey Villanueva and Nicholas Nodarse were the goal scorers for Servite.

Xaviar Alcantar scored the lone goal for the Lancers (11-7-5) on a penalty kick.

Williams opened the scoring for the Friars on a header in the 33rd minute, which came off a free kick from Justin Cuevas.

Shortly after the goal, Williams sustained a cut over his right eye when he butted heads with an Orange Lutheran player and was removed from the game.

In the 54th minute, Servite’s Parker Buetow launched a hard shot that was blocked by Lancers goalkeeper Dillan Danks.

Villanueva was in perfect position to control the rebound and score the Friars’ second goal.

Alcantar scored for the Lancers on a penalty kick in the 60th minute after the Friars committed a foul in the box.

Prior to that, the Friars hadn’t allowed a goal since their 2-1 victory over Valley View in the opening round of the playoffs.

Servite took the momentum back three minutes later in a sequence that began with a corner kick.

The Lancers tried to clear the ball away from their goal but Servite’s Nicholas Menvielle kicked the ball back toward the goal, where Mattias Kremer took possession and sent a cross pass to Nodarse, who scored to get the Friars’ lead back up to two.

From that point, Servite remained in a defensive posture and kicked the ball deep downfield on every opportunity.

The Lancers were making the jump to Division 1 after winning the Division 4 title last season.

“I’m sure a lot of teams and people wrote us off at the end of the regular season,” Lancers coach Mike Oseguera said. “To put together this kind of run is nothing short of amazing. Sometimes when you play really established programs that have been in these games before, they find ways to win, and it’s a learning experience for us. So hopefully we’ll be back in the near future.”

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