Playing without four topline players, the No. 1-ranked Torrey Pines boys’ soccer team dominated from virtually start-to-finish in a 4-1 Wednesday night (Jan. 8) home victory over No. 8 St. Augustine. The Falcons improved to 8-1-2 with the win while the Saints fell to 3-4-3. Next up for Torrey Pines is a Saturday road contest at No. 3 Point Loma, a rematch of the 2019 CIF Open Division championship which the Falcons won in overtime on penalty kicks.
Wednesday, Torrey demonstrated a high quality work rate, had a considerable edge in time of possession and scored three goals in the first half, two by sophomore call-up Mateo Pacelli who’s been on the roster for just under a month. The final margin might have been wider but the home side missed several good opportunities and the St. Augustine goal came in second half stoppage time.
“This was a big one in terms of rankings and the post-season, as is Saturday against Point Loma,” said Head Coach Andy Hargreaves. “4-0 would have been better but, seriously, I’m very surprised at the result. Our guys are just playing with confidence right now.”
Hargreaves squad found the scoreboard just 10 minutes into the game when senior Chris Tonelli dribbled down the left side and launched a crossing pass into the box that junior Oliver Brandup one-timed from eight yards out.
With little over eight minutes to go in the half, Torrey Pines made it 2-0 as a Jose Salgado shot deflected to Pacelli’s feet in the middle of the box, he took a touch and then sent a left-footer into the lower left corner. Three minutes later, Pacelli struck again, collecting a subtle, looping entry pass from Hudson Gomez just inside the box and slotted it to the far side. That’s how the score stayed until the 7:25 point of the second half when a post-corner kick scrum resulted in goal No. 4, a short range, sharp-angled poke by Reid Hershey. For Pacelli, the last month has been a wild ride.
“I’m really surprised, when coach called me up he told me I’d get playing time but I didn’t expect to be scoring goals like this,” said Pacelli afterwards. “It’s exciting. I’m just trying to work hard and help the team any way I can. If I score a goal that’s awesome.” He’s got a fan in Hargreaves.
“We started him on JV because we wanted to see how he did on size and stuff but he’s been unbelievable,” said the Hargreaves of the 5-4 Pacelli, likely the smallest player on the Torrey Pines roster. “He’s probably the hardest-working guy on the field in every game. I think he sets the standard for everybody with his effort.”
While Pacelli may have been in the spotlight, the night was really a testament to an integrated performance from a team that is clearly a different sort than the championship-level groups the Falcons have fielded the past two seasons.
“They’re good athletes, but they’re very intelligent soccer players,” assessed Hargreaves. “They’re organized and when you organize good soccer players, they get to play the way they want to play. That’s what we’re saw tonight.”