The Edison High School boys' soccer team will make school history in the Southern Section 4-A final tonight.
Coach Mike DiGiovanni's Chargers are the first Edison soccer team to advance past the semifinals. They play top-seeded Palos Verdes at 8 p.m. at Gahr High School in Cerritos.
It certainly was not easy getting there. The unseeded Chargers (14-5-3) defeated Hawthorne, 3-2, in their semifinal match without four starters. Starting defender Danny Brunner separated his shoulder in Edison's quarterfinal victory over Chino. In the same game, defenders Chad Reed and Randy Clark, and outside halfback Todd Newton received red cards for flagrant fouls, making them ineligible to play against Hawthorne.
In the first round, Edison, the Sunset League co-champion, defeated Rolling Hills.
DiGiovanni said he expects to have all the players back against Palos Verdes, and he will need them. The Sea Kings are undefeated and untied in 32 matches.
Palos Verdes has scored 90 goals and allowed only 10 in 32 games. Mater Dei is the only team to score more than one goal against Palos Verdes.
Edison plans to counter Palos Verdes' abundance of talented athletes with pressure.
"We are just not going to give them any space with the ball mainly," DiGiovanni said. "Palos Verdes is the type of team where if you back away from them, they are able to make things happen. But if we play them really tight, hopefully we can play them head-to-head."
Edison is a physical ball-control team, led by forward Mike Hawks (15 goals), center-halfback Kevin Smith (14 goals) and goalie Mike Juric.
Mater Dei is definitely the favorite, but Edison is ready, DiGiovanni said. "The kids really believe they can take on the challenge." And the Chargers just might get a helping hand in the weather.
"Rain usually tends to help out the lesser-skilled team," DiGiovanni said. "I guess in this circumstance, everybody seems to think we are the lesser-skilled team, so I guess it would be in our favor."