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HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER PLAYOFFS

By the Numbers, St. Francis Wins

February 24, 1996|MIKE BRESNAHAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LA CANADA — Three goals, two games away from a championship, one quarterfinal victory, no smiles.

Meet the St. Francis High boys' soccer team, an efficient, businesslike bunch that handled Palmdale, 3-0, in the Southern Section Division III quarterfinals Friday at St. Francis.

They came, they conquered, they shook hands, they went home.

If anybody had reason to break out the apple cider, it was center midfielder Pete Vagenas.

Earlier this week, Vagenas signed a letter of intent with UCLA.

He reminded the Bruins what they would be getting by scoring two goals Friday, one on a header 2 minutes 50 seconds into the game.

Like his teammates, Vagenas was expedient during the game. And after it.

"After tonight, this doesn't mean anything to us," Vagenas said. "This is just a step toward our goal.

"We're happy, don't get me wrong, but we're only in the quarterfinals. Come next Saturday, we'll celebrate."

St. Francis (21-3-2) faces Canyon Springs, a 2-1 winner over Newport Harbor, in the semifinals Tuesday at a site to be determined. If St. Francis wins, it advances to next Saturday's title game.

Until then, don't expect too many smiles from the Golden Knights.

"If we celebrate this one and forget about the next one, Tuesday comes quickly," said St. Francis Coach Glen Appels, whose team has never been in the Division III semifinals. "That's the way we have to do it."

Palmdale (22-4-3) was feeling an emotion of its own: Confusion.

The Falcons have a stellar offense, led by Murad Dibbini's 41 goals.

Dibbini, however, generated only one shot, partly because of a hip injury and partly because he was marked by Ryan Norstadt.

"They're one of the top teams we've played," said Dibbini, who started but left after 20 minutes following a collision at midfield.

Dibbini returned in the second half, but the game had been decided.

Vagenas staked the Golden Knights to a 1-0 lead off a sweetly-placed pass by Shunta Shimizu.

Eric Johnson put away a cross from Eduardo Chenu in the 19th minute for a 2-0 lead.

The game was slipping away from Palmdale, which mustered only five shots on goal.

"I don't think they've seen a lot of teams with our skill," Appels said.

Five minutes into the second half, Vagenas knocked a poor-angle shot toward the goal. The ball hit a Palmdale defender and caromed into the net for Vagenas' 19th goal and a 3-0 lead.

Shunta Shimizu had two assists.

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