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Notre Dame Air Game Provides Breathing Room, 6-3 Victory

February 18, 2001|JOHN KLIMA

Notre Dame High put the ball in the air and the game out of reach.

The Knights scored two goals in the final two minutes of the first half to spark a 6-3 victory over Santa Paula in a Southern Section Division IV boys' soccer playoff game Saturday at Santa Paula.

Notre Dame (14-8-1) plays Bishop Amat on Wednesday.

Abraham Llamas of Santa Paula scored in the 38th minute to trim Notre Dame's lead to 2-1.

But the Knights answered with goals on its next two possessions.

Adrian John scored in the 39th minute and Kevin Murray scored the first of his two goals with a header in the 40th minute, giving the Knights a 4-1 halftime lead.

"You put your guard down and someone comes up and punches you in the nose," Santa Paula Coach Manny Elizarraraz said.

Santa Paula (13-11), which played a ground game to utilize its speed against Notre Dame's size, struggled to adjust to the Knights' air game in the first half.

Notre Dame scored on Nick Folk's penalty kick in the 10th minute and Dione Scott scored three minutes later for a 2-0 lead.

"Traditionally, we thought Santa Paula would be very good at keeping the ball on the ground and that they would be vulnerable in the air," Notre Dame Coach Colm McFeely said.

"If we could execute set plays and pressure them, we would win. When we got those two goals at the end of the [first] half, that took a lot of steam out of [Santa Paula]."

Jimmy Sharp gave the Knights a 5-1 lead in the 45th minute before the Cardinals battled back.

Jorge Paniagua scored in the 64th minute and Armando Hernandez's corner back in the 70th minute cut the lead to 5-3, but Murray's second goal in the 79th minute iced the victory.

Notre Dame scored four of its six goals on set plays.

"We're not used to playing teams that big who can put the ball halfway across the field with one kick," Elizarraraz said.

"They beat us on every ball in the air and were very physical. We tried to be quick, but lost concentration late in the first half and couldn't adjust in time."

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