LA CAÑADA — Ian Odermatt had little difficulty finding open space. He did an even better job of using his head in the process to keep the St. Francis High soccer team on the right path.
The junior scored two goals and added an assist to lift host St. Francis to a 3-1 nonleague win against Flintridge Prep on Wednesday at windy Friedman Field.
Odermatt scored both of his goals on headers and St. Francis (3-0-1) got an insurance goal from Colton Ramirez to turn aside Flintridge Prep (3-1-1).
"I've actually been working a lot more on my heading during practice and you just never know when you are going to need to go there because it's so important," Odermatt said. "You often get a lot of balls that go into or near the box and there's always a crowd right there, so you have to find a way to get there and do something positive.
"You get a head on the ball and you never know what's going to happen."
Plenty happened for the Golden Knights, largely because of Odermatt's ability to track the ball at the right time.
Odermatt opened the scoring in the ninth minute. He directed an indirect kick from Scott Cross-Hernandez and beat Flintridge Prep goalkeeper Aidan Schraeder.
Flintridge Prep, which won the Prep League championship last season and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division VI playoffs, tied it about four minutes later.
Simon Siskel came down the left side and lined a shot just inside the right post past St. Francis goalkeeper Michael Bazarevitsch.
St. Francis, though, surged back ahead as Odermatt took a pass from Ben Grace and headed the ball past Schraeder to make it 2-1 in the 29th minute.
"Ian's been with us for three years, so we like to think of him as a seasoned veteran," said St. Francis coach Glen Appels, whose team qualified for the Division I playoffs last season. "He found a way to get in the box and have a direct impact.
"We've been really balanced in the early part of the season, but I thought we were a bit off tonight. We just happened to get some goals at the right time."
Bazarevitsch made a diving save on a 22-yard shot by Silas Chavez in the 63rd minute to protect the lead. It happened about five minutes after Flintridge Prep's Garrett Gaines suffered an apparent ankle injury after colliding with a St. Francis player. Gaines didn't return and left on crutches.
Ramirez closed out the scoring in the 71st minute.
Flintridge Prep coach Esteban Chavez, who also coaches the girls' team, said the Rebels struggled containing their composure during most of the match.
"We took a step or two back and that's because we lost our emotions at times," Chavez said. "We just lost our focus on why we were here and we need to be better disciplined.
"We have a very good core of players, but we just need to get back to controlling our emotions like we did in our earlier games."