Knights clinch second place

WEST HILLS — A year ago last week, Austin Frank suffered a double whammy when he broke his right fibula and tibula.

Since then, it's been about attending physical therapy sessions and getting back up to speed while playing for the St. Francis High soccer team. Frank hasn't shied away from juggling both tasks, and he was rewarded Monday night.

Frank couldn't have picked a better time to score his first goal of the season. It came with two minutes left in the first half to give visiting St. Francis a 1-0 Mission League victory against Chaminade.

St. Francis improved to 13-8, 9-2 in league for 27 points and wrapped up second place behind Loyola (10-0-1 in league). The Golden Knights will close out the regular season at home Wednesday against Loyola, ranked No. 3 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division I poll. Chaminade dropped to 7-3-1 in league for 22 points and remains in third place.

Frank used some fancy footwork on his goal, which drew an assist from junior midfielder Thomas Banks in the 38th minute.

"Thomas dropped me a perfect pass and I just saw an open lane," said Frank, a junior midfielder who suffered his injury Feb. 3, 2010, against Alemany. "He beat a defender and I went a little wide while going toward the net and he gave me a perfect pass in stride and I shot it toward the right post.

"My teammates have been supportive during the whole process I've gone through and I keep putting in a lot of work in therapy."

The Golden Knights, who placed fourth in league last season, had six corner kicks en route to dictating the flow of play throughout most of the first half.

St. Francis, which suffered a 2-1 home defeat against Chaminade on Jan. 20 at Friedman Field, limited Chaminade to six shots Monday. St. Francis junior goalkeeper Paul Dean recorded four saves.

"We talked about calming down and just make one more good pass," St. Francis Coach Glen Appels said. "We just missed on some chances beforehand and we got the pass that we looked for on the goal.

"Thomas got the ball out of the air and slipped the ball through perfectly to Austin. It took great composure and vision to make that pass and the finish was clinical. Our defense was good and we got the results we needed."

St. Francis' two best scoring chances prior to Frank's goal came four minutes apart. Banks headed a corner kick from junior midfielder Derek Bell over the crossbar in the fifth minute. Four minutes later, sophomore forward Mark Verso headed a shot on goal that Chaminade senior goalkeeper Koa Cano (10 saves) tipped over the crossbar.

St. Francis, which picked up a 4-2 league road win against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame on Friday, competed for the second straight match without forward Billy McCreary. Appels said McCreary, a junior, suffered a broken collarbone during an off-the-field incident last week. It wasn't clear if McCreary would return this season.

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