LA CANADA — Prior to their regular season finale Wednesday night, the members of the St. Francis High soccer team convened in a classroom inside the campus fieldhouse adjacent to Friedman Field before receiving a history lesson covering the team's last 24 years.
St. Francis Coach Glen Appels specifically noted that the Golden Knights had missed the playoffs only once since he took over the team in 1989. The Golden Knights got Appels’ point and then took care of some unfinished business —wrapping up a playoff berth.
Brookes Treidler, Alex Pidoux and Frankie Veiga each scored a second-half goal to lead St. Francis to a 3-0 Mission League home win against Chaminade.
“We talked before the game and I wanted them to know when the last time the team missed the playoffs,” Appels said. “I put up the information on a projector.
“I wanted them to know that we had a chance to keep our playoff streak going. They responded.”
St. Francis improved to 7-10-5, 5-6-1 in league for third place with 16 points. Chaminade dropped to 8-8-5, 2-6-4 in league with 10 points. St. Francis, which last failed to make the playoffs in 1997 after winning a CIF championship in 1996, clinched third after Crespi and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame battled to a scoreless league deadlock at Notre Dame on Wednesday. Notre Dame finished 3-4-5 in league for 14 points and grabbed the fourth and final automatic playoff berth out of the Mission League.
The Golden Knights had fallen on tough times of late, losing their last four matches while failing to record a goal in that stretch. That changed in a big way in the second half, along with another steady effort by goalkeeper Luca Coppola.
Coppola held the Eagles at bay throughout the first half and during the opening moments of the second half with some splendid saves.
St. Francis then picked up its play offensively thanks to an alert play from Treidler.
Treidler intercepted a clearing pass by a Chaminade defender and lined a 25-yard shot into the back of the net to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute. It was St. Francis’ first goal in 407 minutes.
“I looked up and saw that the guy looked to be in trouble,” Treidler said. “I was celebrating before I hit the ball.
“You imagine trying to make a play like that and it worked out. It’s just a huge relief to be going to the playoffs.”
Coppola made sure the lead would hold up, making two stops on point-blank shots about a minute apart shortly after Treidler scored.
Pidoux made it 2-0 when his shot deflected off a Chaminade defender in the 59th minute.
Veiga closed out the scoring in the 66th minute. Veiga’s original shot was stopped by Chaminade goalkeeper Angus Bent. Veiga collided with Bent and the ball popped loose. Veiga rose immediately and scored into the empty net.
“Frankie worked hard to get that goal,” said Appels, whose team registered a 4-1 win at Chaminade on Jan. 18. “What can you say?”
Coppola made a leaping save on a direct kick by Austin Flores in the 37th minute before making a nice stop on a shot inside the box by Alessandro Giambrone in the opening minute of the second half.
“We had a lot of energy, especially in the second half,” said Coppola, who finished with nine saves. “We had not been able to score lately, and then things clicked.
“It’s like a big weight is now off our shoulders.”
The CIF Southern Section office will unveil playoff pairings Monday. St. Francis competes in Division I.