LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Back from a two-week hiatus, the St. Francis High soccer squad looked to remain unbeaten.
After shaking off the cobwebs, the Golden Knights left Tuesday afternoon’s nonleague match against visiting West Torrance still undefeated despite missing on some quality scoring opportunities.
Nick Rihn of St. Francis and West Torrance’s Matthew Hazzard exchanged goals within a minute late in the first half to finish in a 1-1 tie at Friedman Field.
St. Francis (5-0-1) controlled the flow throughout the majority of the 80-minute contest, but couldn’t net a match-winning goal in the second half against a quality West Torrance squad that stretched its unbeaten streak to nine.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t make more of our scoring chances,” said St. Francis Coach Glen Appels, whose team last competed Dec. 15 in the ninth-place match of the Ralph Brandt Tournament. “Our level of anticipation was good against a team that’s got some skillful players.
“I thought we played extremely hard and were able to match their intensity. In the second half, our effort was much better.”
Rihn, a senior midfielder and a reigning All-Area first-team member, gave the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute on a 35-yard shot that got past West Torrance goalkeeper Taylor Farish. West Torrance (5-1-5) knotted the match about 30 seconds later when Hazzard bounced a shot off of St. Francis senior goalkeeper Jordan Bell.
“We scored a nice goal, and then we give up a soft goal,” said Appels, who guided the Golden Knights to the Mission League championship and to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs last season. “We had guys in the right place on their goal.”
St. Francis had its earlier best scoring chances thwarted by Farish, who finished with nine saves. He turned aside a shot in the third minute by sophomore midfielder Garrett Swart before foiling a point-blank shot in the 35th minute by senior midfielder Brett McCreary.
Rihn said the Golden Knights looked fairly sharp following a 15-day layoff.
“I thought we were extremely organized,” Rihn said. “On my goal, it bounced to me in a good position, so I was relaxed and I could hit it.
“I heard that [West Torrance] did well last year. I thought it would be a good test.”
St. Francis will next compete Friday and Saturday at the Buena Tournament in Ventura. The Golden Knights will take part in pool-play matches Friday at 12:45 p.m. against Camarillo and at 3:15 against Ventura.
“There will be some good teams in that tournament,” said Appels, who lost senior midfielder G.P. Gonzalez and junior defender Andrew Blunk to leg and nose injuries, respectively.