LA CANADA — After a rough beginning to the season, things now appear to be clicking at the right time for the St. Francis High soccer team.
The Golden Knights have recently received timely scoring and standout defensive efforts to help move them into the upper half of the Mission League following a sluggish start.
One of the players who has been responsible for St. Francis’ surge has been junior forward Frankie Veiga. During the past several matches, Veiga’s showcased his ability to score and boost St. Francis’ confidence.
Veiga provided another top-notch display Wednesday afternoon, as he scored a pair of first-half goals to lead St. Francis to a 2-0 Mission League home victory against Alemany.
St. Francis won its season-high fourth match in a row to improve to 6-6-5, 4-2-1 in league. Alemany fell to 6-9-4, 2-4-1.
“We got off to a bad start to the season and we had enough of losing,” Veiga said. “We knew we had to come out hard in these last few games and be able to turn our season around.
“We’ve done that. We are getting good play all over the field.”
Veiga’s speed proved to be a boon for the Golden Knights on both goals.
St. Francis opened the scoring in the 16th minute. Paolo Ramirez floated a pass upfield and behind two Alemany defenders. Veiga sprinted about 25 yards to catch up with the ball and beat Alemany goalkeeper Clint Smith.
Veiga made it 2-0 with a similar goal in the 37th minute. St. Francis’ Christian Green made a perfect pass to Veiga, who corralled the ball and flipped the ball past the diving Smith.
“On the first goal, Paolo sent me a great ball and I was able to read it,” said Veiga, who scored two goals in St. Francis’ 4-1 league win against Chaminade on Friday. “Christian sent the ball in and I ran diagonally and was able to score.”
St. Francis Coach Glen Appels said Veiga has helped change the Golden Knights’ fortunes.
“He’s found his scoring touch and he’s been able to do it by anticipating his runs,” said Appels, who got 12 saves from goalkeeper Luca Coppola. “We have a lot of good passers on our team. If he can make his runs, then there’s a good chance that he can score.
“We’ve found a bit of a groove. It’s been a little bit of everything from tightening up on defense to starting to finish on our scoring chances.”
The Golden Knights, who suffered a 3-2 league-opening road loss to Alemany on Jan. 4, have allowed two goals in their last four contests.
Veiga nearly recorded a hat trick, but Smith foiled him inside the box in the 62nd minute. Smith registered 10 saves.
Coppola made nine second-half saves to preserve the shutout. He made a diving save on a shot by Miguel Acevedo in the 55th minute and then stopped Acevedo again on a point-blank shot in the 58th minute.
St. Francis will next participate in a league road game at 5 p.m. Monday against Crespi.