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Los Amigos boys’ soccer beats Santiago, moves into tie for first place

When a major winter storm washed away Wednesday’s match, the Los Amigos High boys’ soccer team did not let the weather dampen their spirits.

Senior goalkeeper Daniel Roman noted that “nobody really wants to play on Saturday,” but the Lobos were able to get excited about a chance to compete for first place.

Junior striker Francisco Lopez scored in the seventh minute, and the visiting Lobos defeated Santiago 1-0 on Saturday in a makeup of their first Garden Grove League meeting.

Los Amigos (11-2-1, 5-1 in league) won the battle of ranked teams in the CIF Southern Section, forging a three-way tie atop the league standings. Santiago (15-3-2, 5-1), ranked fourth in Division 2, and Loara (9-4-2, 5-1) are also tied for first.

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The Lobos, ranked seventh in Division 5, are seeking their first league title since 2013. Los Amigos has a team full of experience, which includes a trio of double-digit goal scorers in Gustavo Oleta, Alfonso Montano and Lopez.

“This team reminds me a lot of my 2006 CIF championship team,” Lobos coach Chris Sandro said. “They’re friends on and off the field. They’re really experienced. We have 16 seniors out of 23 guys, and the other seven are juniors.

“I’m not trying to sugarcoat it with these guys. I see greatness in them, and I want them to realize that.”

Following the rain, the natural grass field at Santiago had an element of unevenness. Sandro said he wanted the ball played directly to teammates, with the ball likely to get away if it did not land at a player’s feet.

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“On offense, I always yell, ‘Feet,’ ” Sandro said. “By that, I mean, I want the ball on somebody. Find somebody’s feet. Do not kick it up in the air. Don’t give him a through ball. Hit his feet.

“That is key when you have a surface like this. You have to keep the ball close. You can’t have through balls, and you can’t have guys running all over the place for it.”

The Lobos executed for the game’s only goal early on. Montano put the ball on Lopez, who found himself in space in the middle and was able to take advantage.

“I just saw space in the middle, so I just made a run,” Lopez said. “I took a touch in the opposite direction of where the [Santiago] player was running, and then I just shot with my left [foot], across the goal.”

Roman made eight saves for the Lobos, none bigger than when he knocked down a missile from the left side of the box by Jesus Nino in the 77th minute.

The Cavaliers earned a close-range free kick above the box in stoppage time, but Daniel Gutierrez’s attempt to go over the defensive wall in front sailed wide of the left elbow of the goal.

For most of the afternoon, the Lobos’ back line of Pedro Leyva, Brandon Alfaro, Allen Ocampo and Julio Vega prevented the Cavaliers from producing quality scoring chances.

“It’s a team effort,” Roman said. “The clean sheet, it wasn’t just me. It was the center backs and the right backs, and also the center defensive [midfielders]. I can’t take all the credit.”

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andrew.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner


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