Twelve minutes into the boys’ soccer match at Sage Hill School, the scoreboard showed the Lightning ahead, 9-0. The hosts led Brethren Christian in the first half, just not by that many goals on Thursday.
Maybe the scoreboard operator tried to predict the outcome on a rainy night.
The operator wasn’t that off when it came to the final score of the Academy League match. Sage Hill earned a convincing 8-0 victory, improving to 9-0-1 in league.
Next week the regular season wraps up with Sage Hill playing host to defending league champion St. Margaret’s. Only one team expects to finish unbeaten in league.
“The winner of that game will be league champ,” said Gabriel Lucatero, who is in his first season in charge of the Lightning.
Lucatero is enjoying an abundance of success in his debut season as a varsity head coach. Sage Hill is 13-0-2 overall and ranked No. 10 in the CIF Southern Section Division 6 poll.
Before Sage Hill faces St. Margaret’s, it travels to Crean Lutheran on Saturday. Sage Hill is looking to claim its first league title since the 2006-07 season. Seven seasons ago, the program went 15-1-2, 10-0-0 in league, suffering its lone loss in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs.
Sage Hill isn’t perfect in league this season, but it plans to make a deep playoff run. The only team Sage Hill has failed to beat in league is St. Margaret’s. The match on Jan. 24 at St. Margaret’s ended in a 1-1 tie.
The rest of the nine league matches have easily gone Sage Hill’s way. Outside of St. Margaret’s, Sage Hill has outscored opponents, 66-3.
Experience and talent has elevated the Lightning past five of the six teams in league. The team only lost one player to graduation, and it was the backup goalkeeper.
Ten seniors have been on the roster this season. Lucatero pulled up two seniors from junior varsity for its match against lowly Brethren Christian.
"[Thursday] was not the official senior night. That’s going to take place next Thursday against St. Margaret’s,” Lucatero said. “But I had a conversation with the team and mentioned to [the players] that I would play all of the seniors on the team to start either the second half or the beginning of the game. In this case, I started them in the second half.”
Lucatero could afford to play anyone against a winless team like Brethren Christian. Getting a 3-0 lead at halftime, with Kavi Sakraney, Nikolai Sadeghi and Dakshin Jandhyala recording goals, helped.
Sakraney and Sadeghi finished with two goals apiece. Sadeghi, a forward and midfielder, leads the team with 22 goals.
Sadeghi assisted on Jandhyala’s header in the 16th minute, giving him 10 assists. The junior is two assists back of the team leader, Danny Lee.
Lee assisted on a goal and produced his first goal of the season. The Lightning allowed the senior to take a penalty kick in the 62nd minute. Anthony Gil created the opportunity after Brethren Christian’s Bryce Sutton took Gil down in the box.
Gil also assisted on two goals, one coming on a corner kick. The junior found Dino Romeo near the far post, where Romeo found the back of the net in the 71st minute. Eight minutes later, Milad Rohani put a shot away.
While the goals began to pile up for the Lightning, Brethren Christian never threatened. Goalkeepers Adam Ellingson and Eric Magliarditi split time and only Magliarditi had to make a save in Sage Hill’s sixth shutout in league.
“One big thing is that we all played together last year, so we didn’t break up any of the team,” said Ellingson, who has contributed to Sage Hill holding 10 opponents scoreless this season. “We all just kind of kept playing throughout the summer, even though there’s no really scheduled off-season, we all got together and played.”