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Golden Knights Soccer Finishes Season in Second

posted Mar 25, 2011, 10:35 PM by Golden Knight

By Christian Romo

2/14/2011

St. Francis            4

Norte Dame       2

Coming off a three-game winning streak, the Golden Knights traveled to Sherman Oaks to face Notre Dame before facing the toughest part of their schedule. A win would give the Golden Knights a chance for second place during the following game against Chaminade.

Not caught looking ahead, senior forward Eric Verso cut through the Knights’s defense to rack up the first individual four-goal game of the season for St. Francis. As if a hat trick wasn’t impressive enough, Verso energized the sidelines and wowed the crowd with an impressive quasi-bicycle kick to stretch the lead before the game’s end. His performance was an affirmation of his talents displayed in 2009 before suffering a knee injury at the beginning of this season.

St. Francis            1

Chaminade         0

Heading into the game, neither Chaminade nor St. Francis had a shot at finishing above Loyola for first place in the Mission League, but the matchup was crucial in determining second place and the prospects for the playoffs.

An Austin Frank goal was all that was needed for the Golden Knights to achieve second place in league play. The junior midfielder zipped through and open lane and put the ball in the net in the 38th minute. Ball possession and a stout defense that allowed only six shots gave the Golden Knights a quality victory over a tough opponent as they looked forward to their most anticipated match of the season.

Loyola                   4

St. Francis            3

On paper, the Golden Knights’s season finale against Loyola wasn’t very important. An impressive win may have given St. Francis a better position in the playoffs, but by the time the Cubs arrived at Friedman Field on Friday they had already clinched first place and held an undefeated league record. The less celebrated but more recently decorated Golden Knights could do nothing but look up from their position as second best team in the Mission League. There were arguably many more important endeavors this season, especially the previous game at Chaminade, but it would be unwise to tell that to the spirited crowd that watched two rivals go at it for pride.

The atmosphere on Wednesday felt like a Friday night in the fall, but with less pageantry and more fans actually following the game. By the end of the school day, fans wearing Loyola and St. Francis sweatshirts alike trickled in from the courtyard and down to the field in what was by far the best attended game of the season.

A Mark Verso goal in the 15th minute tied the game at one, but Loyola forward Andre Brown untied the game in the 22nd minute as the game entered the half at 2-1. The beginning of the second half seemed like a nightmare for the Golden Knights as they allowed two goals in a span of one minute to create a seemingly insurmountable lead for the Cubs.

Senior forward Eric Verso continued his impressive goal streak by breaking through in the 66th minute to bring the score to 4-2. Sophomore forward Mark Verso’s shot was deflected off the arm of a Loyola defender, and brother Eric calmly put away the penalty shot to bring the Golden Knights to within one in the 74th minute. St. Francis mustered one more shot in the final six minutes of play but eventually fell in heartbreaking fashion once again to the Cubs.

The loss snaps a five game winning streak heading into the playoffs, but St. Francis looks to take a banged-up but battle-tested team to the CIF finals once again. The first round of the playoffs begin on Friday.

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