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Santa Margarita Blanks Torrance to Win Championship


CERRITOS — After just getting by three county teams in the early rounds of the Division III boys' soccer playoffs, Santa Margarita dominated its opponent in the final to win its second championship in four years, a 4-0 victory over Torrance Saturday at Gahr High.

Santa Margarita (17-7-4), the Division IV co-champions in 1993, recorded shutouts in every playoff game, outscoring opponents, 14-0.

Not bad for a team that didn't even expect to make the playoffs at the start of the season.

"We were one point from not making the playoffs at all," said Eagle Coach Curt Bauer. "But we knew if we could get to the playoffs we could do it. Once we got out of the regionals we knew there couldn't be that many teams tougher than the Orange County teams."

After soundly beating Western, 4-0, in the first round, the Eagles upset third-seeded Newport Harbor, 1-0, Laguna Hills, 1-0, in the quarterfinals and then finished off their run with a 4-0 semifinal victory over Moorpark.

Torrance (14-11-5) was an even bigger surprise to make it to the finals. Starting the season 2-9-4, the Tartars finished the season 8-1-1 to make the playoffs as an at-large selection.

On Saturday though, the Tartars were clearly outmatched as Santa Margarita outshot Torrance, 19-3. "It's not just the defense," said Bauer. "If you can keep the ball offensively, it limits their chances. When you go unscored on in the playoffs, that is tremendous."

Santa Margarita controlled the ball for most of the game, knocking down any threats that Torrance made at the Eagle end of the field.

Senior defenseman Mike Baldridge struck first for Santa Margarita, when forward-turned-midfielder Matt Moses looped a corner kick to the front of the goal, where Baldridge headed it into the net 15 minutes 41 seconds into the game.

Moses picked up his second assist of the day on a direct kick from the sideline, which he placed out front for junior midfielder Tim Pierce, who punched it by goalkeeper Enrique Azevedo at the 30:33 mark for a 2-0 Eagles' lead.

In the second half, Santa Margarita allowed Torrance only one meager shot, and hammering Azevedo with 10 shots. Azevedo, who had five saves in the second half, finished the game with seven.

Junior midfielder Ryan Coiner headed in the Eagles' next goal, when junior Anthony Boscarini grabbed a rebound off a missed shot and lobbed it to Coiner at the 54:45 mark. Brandon Meeks finished off the Eagles' scoring by drilling a shot from the corner of the penalty box with 12 minutes left to play.

Goalkeeper Byron Foss picked up his seventh consecutive shutout for Santa Margarita.

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