Huntington Beach High boys’ soccer coach Sean Dick said that his tune is unlikely to change until his team converts scoring chances at a higher clip.
His story had been the same after a recent low-scoring draw at home against Los Amigos: “We’ve got to finish what we create.”
One was enough for the Oilers on Friday morning.
Senior forward Brandon Francis scored in the 44th minute, lifting Huntington Beach to a 1-0 victory over Costa Mesa in the teams’ final pool-play match of the Hawks Invitational at Lake Forest Sports Park.
Huntington Beach (4-4-2) put 10 shots on goal as a team, five in each half.
“A lot of looks,” Dick said. “I’m very happy with that. We just got to work on our finishing, and that’s the one thing that we’re going to focus on.
“If we can create the opportunities and we can put them in the back of the net, we’re going to have a very good season.”
Francis, who stands at 6-1, was difficult to contain for Costa Mesa (2-7-3), especially in the second half. He had three scoring chances, finishing off a grounded cross from Jack Taugher.
Additionally, Francis saw a shot stopped on a partial breakaway, and he also hit the left post on another opportunity.
“I’m happy with the win and to get back on the score sheet, but I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t get more,” Francis said. “We definitely had the upper hand that entire time.”
Senior goalkeeper Walter Olmedo stood out for Costa Mesa, stopping nine shots.
In the first half, Olmedo got a piece of Carson Dykes’ header and sent it off the crossbar.
Five minutes before connecting with Francis for the game’s only goal, Taugher broke loose for a left-footed shot. Olmedo also got a hand on that attempt, and the ball bounced off the far post and stayed out.
Mustangs left forward Tony Avila was able to get the ball deep into Huntington Beach territory on the wing, but Oilers center backs Jared Rhone and Reid Fisher managed to limit the quality touches for Costa Mesa near their goal.
Not to be outdone, Mustangs senior center back Joel Ramos prevented a breakaway when he broke up a pass attempt from Will Macy to Dykes just before halftime.
“Joel is a key player on the team,” Mustangs assistant coach Santiago Guzman said. “He is a natural leader. He keeps the defense back there composed every game. We are lucky to have him in our program.”
Costa Mesa went scoreless for the fifth consecutive contest and seventh time overall this season. Louis Penaflor and Daniel Kotkosky combined on the shutout for Huntington Beach, making three saves as a goalkeeping tandem.
Senior midfielder Justin Fujimori was recently voted as a co-captain by his teammates, joining Rhone in that role.
“Honestly, it’s a real honor that the team really thinks as high of me to choose me as a captain,” Fujimori said. “I respect all these boys on the team, and hopefully we can do something good this season.”
Dick asked his captains to facilitate a team bonding experience in the days to come before his team begins Sunset Conference crossover play on Jan. 3 versus Los Alamitos.
Fujimori said that the team activities would involve a light run in the morning, followed potentially by a pasta party and a FIFA Tournament.
If the FIFA Tournament comes to fruition, Francis is already laying down the law.
“No one is allowed to be Real Madrid or Barcelona,” Francis said. “Those are off-limits.”
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