Torrey Pines boys roll over Cathedral in CIF soccer opener; Coronado up next
Given the historic stature of the two programs, Tuesday night’s CIF Boys Open Division Quarterfinal between Cathedral Catholic and Torrey Pines seemed more suited to a semi-final or championship match-up. After all, between the pair, they’ve accounted for five (CC-3, TP-2) of the previous eight Open Division titles and only once have both not been in the prestigious eight-team bracket.
But unlike most contests between these two schools, this one had a clear-cut favorite. Host Torrey Pines came in wielding an 18-2-2 record, the North Coastal League crown and the No. 1 seed while Cathedral Catholic was an uncharacteristic 6-4-6 on the year, managed just third in the tough Western League and slipped in as the eighth seed.
Unfortunately for the defending champion Dons, the game reflected those numbers. The host Falcons were dominant in the first half—methodically efficient offensively, pressuring relentlessly on defense—got the lead early and were never seriously threatened, coming away with an impressive, 5-1 victory. They will now host fourth-seeded Coronado, a surprisingly easy, 5-0, winner over No. 5 San Dieguito Academy, in next Tuesday night’s semi-final, also at Torrey Pines. Veteran Torrey Head Coach Andy Hargreaves was understandably pleased with his side’s performance.
“I thought overall we were very solid defensively as a team and didn’t give anything away,” said Hargreaves. “We were clinical when we finished and the midfield held through the whole game.
“There were really no negatives.”
Cathedral Catholic Head Coach Nate Hetherington could find little to fault about his adversaries either. “They have a lot of experience and with that, a lot of game intelligence,” noted Hetherington. “They’re movement off the ball was ultimately the difference.
“We’ve got a good team but they were very hard to track and very hard to eliminate in the 1v1 duels.”
The Falcons got the jump on Cathedral from the opening whistle, keeping the Dons’ senior goalkeeper Brady Bachman under siege much of the night. After creating several dangerous chances early, Hargreaves’ charges broke through in the 10th minute. After a cross by senior Charlie Kosakoff rocketed perilously across the goal mouth, it was collected on the far wing by another senior, Eli Zelkind, who lofted it back into the box where a third senior, midfielder Mateo Pacelli deftly headed it past Bachman.
Just over five minutes later, senior center back Dylan Gleason inserted himself into the attack and put a right-footed volley past Bachman. It looked like this one might get out of reach early.
“We’d been pressuring the goal and with the ball in the air I saw one of their defenders moving to head it out,” said Gleason, who had just recently moved from midfield to the back line after Falcon star Tye Barton signed with the San Diego Loyal. “I tried to line up with where I thought he would hit it and luckily it came right to me—I played it down off my chest and made good contact.
“I was super-hyped. It was an important goal, putting us up by two and building on the momentum we’d already created.”
Torrey Pines continued to control the run of play but with just over five minutes to go before the break, Cathedral appeared to get itself back into the game. A long, crossing free kick by senior Robert Ronco was headed into the net by a Connor Douglas and the deficit was cut in half. The score remained 2-1 at halftime but any Don hopes of a second half comeback were quickly dashed.
Four minutes and 30 seconds in, Zelkind was pulled down inside the box and Kosakoff slotted a penalty kick into the lower right corner to restore the Falcons’ two goal advantage. Five minutes later, Zelkind lofted a cross into the box from deep on the right wing. After a scrum in front of the goal, the ball bounced free to TP midfielder Mikey Sherlock and he deposited it from short range. With 15:20 to go, a slick pass from Pacelli put Andrew Mitchell in and the senior fired low to the far side for the game’s final score.
“Nate (Hetherington) is a great coach and Cathedral plays a good style,” said Hargreaves. “If you don’t have good midfielders, they can take over a game. Our midfielders, Pacelli, Dre (Andre Philibbosian), Mikey (Sherlock) and Juan (Serrano) are all super good which is a big reason we were so successful tonight.”
As a sophomore, former midfielder Gleason was pulled up from the TP junior varsity for the 2020 post-season but didn’t play during the team’s section title run. Last year, as a regular, the Falcons made a first round CIF exit, beaten, 2-1, by St. Augustine. That experience was on his mind Tuesday.
“The first game in the playoffs is really tough and having been put out in the first round last year, that’s been a little weight we’ve been carrying on our backs,” said Gleason postgame. “We wanted to get rid of that.
“It feels great, especially playing as well as we did. It was like the first ‘real’ CIF win for me.”
Hargreaves says his squad will be ready for Coronado (16-0-2), which has a season goal differential of +61 and is the only undefeated team in the field.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” said Hargreaves. “But, if we play our game the way we can, we can beat anybody. We’ve just got to make sure our mindset is right.”
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