Corona del Mar’s Nik Darrough blocks a shot during a game against Fountain Valley on Friday, January 4.(Scott Smeltzer / Daily Pilot )
The Corona del Mar High boys’ soccer team did not play a tournament over winter break.
Sea Kings coach Damien O’Brien put the time off to good use. He was out at the Hawks Invitational at Lake Forest Sports Park scouting Fountain Valley, his team’s upcoming opponent.
His takeaway was that his team would have to keep the Barons out of the middle of the field, and packing in his defense led to CdM’s sixth shutout win of the season.
Niko Urban scored two goals, and Nik Darrough stopped five shots as the host Sea Kings defeated the Barons 2-0 in Friday’s Sunset Conference crossover game.
Darrough picked up his second straight clean sheet in spelling Wally Korbler. The Sea Kings’ starting goalkeeper has been out with an illness.
“We knew what was coming,” Darrough said. “We knew that they were going to try to draw us out. It’s just our great center backs, Grant [Glessing] and Zane [Weaver] being able to hold down the middle. They couldn’t get anything down there.”
Had it not been for the speed of Malachi Wright and Tyler Le on the wings, the Barons (10-3) may have struggled to create any offense. For the most part, the Sea Kings (9-2) did not allow Fountain Valley players to distribute passes cleanly. Midfielders Jennings Torgelson and Thomas Glessing were a big part of that.
“I went to see these guys [Fountain Valley] over Christmas, and we knew that they play three up front,” O’Brien said. “Their two wide guys, they stayed very wide, and they tried to drag the other team wide and leave those gaps in the middle.
“Jennings and Thomas are good players. They’re good destroyers of the game, you could call them. They seek out the ball, and they go win it, and they [take the other team off it].”
Wright had an opportunity to open the scoring in the 15th minute. He dribbled the ball to the top left corner of the box, made one move to shake his defender, and his shot went off the left post.
Five minutes later, Urban gave the Sea Kings the lead on an individual effort after winning the ball in the midfield.
“I took it off their center mid, and I took a touch down toward the goal,” Urban said. “Then I took another touch in, and I shot it left foot across the goal to the right post.”
Urban said he is comfortable shooting with both of his feet, and he showed it when he converted a penalty kick with his right foot in the 39th minute. Jett Bonner dribbled into the box and drew the penalty against Callan Mann that led to the Sea Kings’ second goal.
In doubling their lead, the Sea Kings were afforded the opportunity to stay back on defense in the second half.
The Sea Kings became only the second team to beat the Barons this season. Fountain Valley’s prior two losses came against Santa Ana, which is tied for 10th in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 poll.
“We have to be better,” Barons coach Jason Smith said. “We have to find a way to score goals against good teams. We struggled against Santa Ana. These guys, I wouldn’t say we struggled. We just didn’t put the ball in the back of the net, and unfortunately, that’s what you have to do to win this game.”