Victory Not an Easy One for Capistrano Valley


In the first half of Saturday’s first-round Southern Section playoff game against visiting Rancho Cucamonga, Capistrano Valley showed it has the potential to be a force in Division I. In the second half, the Cougars showed they need work on their knockout punch.

After dominating the first 50 minutes, Capistrano Valley had to hang on for a 2-1 victory.

Capistrano Valley (21-4-5), ranked sixth in the final Orange County poll, looked as though it had the game well in hand. Capistrano Valley outshot Rancho Cucamonga (13-10-2), 7-2, in the first half and built a 2-0 lead on goals by Jonathan Elsby and Jeff Serafini.

Elsby scored his first of the season three minutes before halftime when he flicked a high-bouncing pass from Garrett Petry over Rancho Cucamonga goalkeeper Mark Abate, who had come 15 yards out to challenge the shot. Serafini scored his team-leading 17th goal four minutes into the second half when he took a centering pass from Hector Cardenas and volleyed a knuckleball off Abate’s hands with his left foot from just inside the top of the box.


But the game changed when Rancho Cucamonga’s Ryan Gutierrez was fouled while trying to beat a Capistrano Valley defender in the penalty box. Gutierrez converted on the penalty kick and that seemed to give Rancho Cucamonga some life.

After putting 11 shots on goal in the first 60 minutes, Capistrano Valley’s offensive pressure was almost nonexistent in the last 20. However, the Cougar defense remained strong with goalkeeper Zach Mikelson leading the way.

Coach Ron Willms is awaiting the return of senior striker Brent Barnes, who has missed half the season with a dislocated shoulder and a pulled hamstring. Barnes, who still scored 10 goals, is expected back for the second round against Saddleback, which defeated Diamond Bar, 3-1, Saturday.