PASADENA — In their season-opening match, the St. Francis High and La Salle soccer teams turned to their goalkeepers for excellence Monday night.
The Golden Knights and Lancers traded quality scoring opportunities. However, St. Francis goalkeepers Paul Dean and Luca Coppola and La Salle goalkeeper Garrett Kubon rose to the occasion and foiled every chance, resulting in a scoreless tie in the nonleague match at La Salle.
Dean made five first-half saves before Coppola contributed three saves in the second half. Kubon finished with eight saves.
"Our goalkeepers were good," said St. Francis Coach Glen Appels, who saw midfielder Matt Laterza hit the outside of the right post with 20 seconds remaining in the match. "We are blessed to have two out standing goalkeepers.
"Paul brings the leadership and Luca is very athletic."
La Salle Coach Dan Sheridan said Kubon turned in a quality effort against a St. Francis squad that finished second in the ultra-competitive Mission League last season.
"Garrett is a guy I expect a lot from," said Sheridan, whose team placed third in the Del Rey League last season. "I stress to him that it's about being aggressive and playing consistent.
"He made a lot of good decisions and we are going to need him for us to do well."
Dean and Kubon made some quality saves in the first half. Coppola and Kubon were equal to the task in the second half.
In the third minute of the match, La Salle sophomore defender Nicola Vinski took a 40-yard shot that bounced off the field turf before Dean swatted the ball out of danger. Kubon then smothered a line shot by senior forward Billy McCreary in the 20th minute.
In the 31st minute, Dean made another big save against Vinski.
Coppola made a sliding save on a shot in the 68th minute to hold the Lancers at bay.
"I felt like we had a number of chances to win, but 0-0 is a fair result," Sheridan said. "It's a test for us from the outset.
"St. Francis has been the premier program in the area and Coach Appels is a great coach."
Appels said the Golden Knights didn't equal La Salle's intensity.
"La Salle played a notch harder than we did and they are a good team," Appels said. "I'm disappointed in our effort and we lost too many 50-50 balls to them.
"We didn't test [Kubon] as much as we would have liked."
St Francis lost starting midfielder Austin Frank to an apparent concussion early in the first half. The senior, who missed a chunk of last season because of a broken leg, didn't return and it wasn't clear when Frank would return.