Top seeds move forward in CIF boys soccer playoffs

Cathedral Catholic senior Mitchell Seipt
(Ken Grosse)

Top-seeded Cathedral Catholic and second seed Torrey Pines delivered home victories in Tuesday night’s CIF Boys’ Soccer Open Division Quarterfinal action and neighborhood counterpart Canyon Crest, the sixth seed, joined next Tuesday’s semi-final party as the only lower seed to survive the first round of the playoffs.

Coach Nate Hetherington’s Cathedral Catholic (13-1-4) squad knocked out No. 8 Westview, 1-0, and will now host fourth-seeded Del Norte (12-3-5), a 3-2 victor over Point Loma. In Tuesday’s (Feb. 25) other semi-final, Torrey Pines (18-3-2) and Canyon Crest (11-4-7) will clash for the third time this season with each owning one win. Avocado West title-winner Torrey Pines reached the second round by making short work of No. 7 seed San Pasqual while CCA defended an early goal in defeating third-seeded St. Augustine.

The teams emerging from the two semi-final contests will advance to the Open Division championship match, Friday, Feb. 28 at Mission Bay High School. Kick-off is slated for 7:00 PM.

Here’s a brief rundown of the three quarterfinal matches featuring North Coast teams.

The Dons' Leo Castro-Guerrero puts a shot on goal.
(Ken Grosse)

Cathedral Catholic 1 Westview 0

The first round of any “one-and-done” tournament can cause some anxiety, even if you’re the No. 1 seed. Having experienced heartbreak in a similar situation last season, Hetherington was pleased with the way his team handled a stubborn Westview side Tuesday.

“In a situation like this where a loss sends you packing, it’s always unpredictable,” said Hetherington, whose team was eliminated on penalty kicks by Scripps Ranch in the 2019 CIF quarterfinal. “We knew what was on the line and overall, I thought we played really well tonight.

“Our team showed a lot of character in sticking to our style and waiting for one of our chances to pay off. Westview’s defense was tough to break down—the have a low block, were well-connected and made it very challenging for us. It was tough to find space but we kept the ball moving.”

The Dons’ perseverance finally paid off after nearly 70 minutes of grinding. The game-winner came from a somewhat unlikely source, senior Danny James. The 5-9, midfielder, got the ball slipped in to him inside the 18, stayed calm while carrying it almost to the edge of the six-yard box and then hit it to the far post. Hetherington felt James was a fitting choice to play the hero.

“I like to see players like Danny rewarded,” said Hetherington who has coached a pair of CIF Open banner winners at Cathedral. “He’s a veteran in our program, has a great attitude and is patient with things like roles or playing time.

“He started tonight, was out for a breather, we got him back in at the end and he stepped up in a big moment.”

Bolstered by solid defensive play in front of him, senior Andrew Williams supplied the shut out in goal for the Western League champs.

Jose Salgado (9) and Charlie Kosakoff (19) accounted for all three Torrey Pines goals.
(Ken Grosse)

Torrey Pines 3 San Pasqual 0

Torrey Pines had little to answer for Tuesday, turning in a business-like performance, highlighted by two slick goals from sophomore Charlie Kosakoff, in dispatching San Pasqual, 3-0. Since absorbing a 2-0 loss to Canyon Crest on Jan. 23, the Falcons have won seven straight, while outscoring foes, 22-1.

“San Pasqual was a tough opening draw,” said Head Coach Andy Hargreaves. “They have some good players, work hard and are into it—they’ll run through a brick wall for their coach. Getting that first goal was critical.

“Overall, a good game for us. No goals against says it all. I’m really happy.”

Kosakoff gave Torrey a 1-0 halftime lead inside the final two minutes. Senior Chris Tonelli, carrying down the left sideline, cut inside, fed it to Kosakoff when he showed on the edge of the box. He spun and put it just under the crossbar right of the keeper.

“That first one, I was actually looking to pass,” said Kosakoff, who has still played only a handful of games since returning from a broken femur, “but I saw a corner of the goal open and just tried to hit it.”

Sophomore Charlie Kosakoff netted a pair of goals for the Falcons.
(Ken Grosse)

The Eagles came out with some steam in the second half but by the 15th minute, about the time a precise run-cross from Oliver Brandup to Kosakoff rebounded off the crossbar, it seemed the field was tilting in favor of the Falcons. At 22:50, Kosakoff took a wide feed to the keeper’s left and launched a perfectly placed drive into the far side to make it 2-0.

“I don’t even know what I was doing on the second goal,” admitted Kosakoff. “It just happened—I just hit it and it went where I wanted it to go—a little bit of luck, a little bit of skill.”

Seven minutes later, Brandup was pulled down in the box, senior Jose Salgado converted the PK for his 10th goal of the season and it was a matter of running out the clock with senior goalie Nick Bello recording the clean sheet.

Kosakoff summed up the game succinctly. “It was good, I think we expected it,” he said afterward. “We think highly of ourselves, not in a cocky way, just a confidence.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less than the kind of performance we had tonight.”

CCA senior Jesse Yu's free kick proved to be the game-winner Tuesday.
(Ken Grosse)

Canyon Crest 1 St. Augustine 0

Even veteran Canyon Crest Head Coach Tom Lockhart conceded that his club didn’t have a lot of opportunities against host St. Augustine Tuesday but the Ravens one goal was a classic and they made it stand up. Going in, they knew it would be a battle.

“This is the first time our program has ever won on that field—it’s a really tough place to win,” said Lockhart. “It’s a small field, they have a big throw-in kid and an excellent corner kick specialist. We knew they would play pretty direct.”

The only point the Ravens would need came in the opening stages. With just over 10 minutes gone, CCA got a free kick from 25 yds. straight out from the right post. Senior Jesse Yu got the call and made one of the biggest kicks of his career, freezing the Saints’ goalkeeper while bending it just inside the near post, upper V. It was his first goal of the season. Lockhart called it a convergence of talent and preparation.

“We did a little film work, thought we had seen some things and he had the confidence to take it,” said Lockhart. “He showed why he’s our captain and maybe the best center back in the county.”

Of course, there was the still the small matter of keeping a dangerous Saints team at bay. Lockhart had faith that his charges were up to the task of stopping an opponent that two weeks earlier had handed No. 1 Cathedral Catholic it’s lone loss.

“We knew they would come out fired up in the second half and the last 15 minutes they had us on our heels but we found a way,” said Lockhart. “In tight games, we seem to find a way to make something happen.”

So now, CCA faces a rubber match with Torrey Pines, the team that handed the Ravens a one-sided, 5-0, loss the last time the two locked horns. It’s a test Lockhart is relishing.

“I felt confident we could win against St. Augustine and we’re excited about facing Torrey Pines again,” he said. “I think my guys will be ready—they know what to expect if they’re not focused.”