Late goal costs Knights win

WEST HILLS — Two defensive breakdowns in the first and last few minutes cost the St. Francis High boys' soccer team two points in a Mission League game at Chaminade Thursday.

The Golden Knights tied the Eagles, 2-2, but it felt and looked a lot more like a Chaminade win after the Eagles celebrated the result after they scored a back-breaking goal in the final two minutes of the game.

St. Francis Coach Glen Appels said the tie felt like a loss.

"I'm proud we fought back to go up, 2-1, but up with two minutes to go we've got to defend better," Appels said. "It's disappointing for us in league, we lost in the last 30 seconds against Harvard-Westlake and we had three points on the road [today], but we let it slip away.

"We've got to learn in those last few minutes to be a little more focused."

It looked like St. Francis (4-7-5, 3-1-1 in league) had found a difference maker when Matt Laterza buried home a penalty-kick goal with 22 minutes remaining in the game. The opportunity came after a Laterza cross was knocked down in Chaminade's box by an Eagles defender's hand.

The goal gave St. Francis a 2-1 lead after it faced a 1-0 deficit after giving up a goal in the first two minutes of the game off a Chaminade deep throw.

The throw from Chaminade's Brandon Stone found teammate Karam Gill in the middle of the Golden Knights' box. Gill flicked a pass to the back post where the Eagles' Sameer Rana was waiting. Rana fired home a goal off a side kick to give his team a 1-0 lead.

St. Francis wasn't phased, as it created a goal of its own off a deep throw in the seventh minute. Billy Abdallah threw the ball into Chaminade's box and off an Eagles defender. The Golden Knights' Matt Laterza cleaned up the loose ball to even the score at 1.

"We fought back and went up, 2-1, but there was too many stupid mistakes," said Laterza, who notched both of St. Francis' goals.

The Eagles (7-3-4, 1-2-2) had answered St. Francis' late goal after applying pressure and creating four scoring chances in the final 20 minutes. It paid off with two minutes to go when Chaminade's Stephen Matoesian buried a goal home off a cross from Nick Barbarino as the Golden Knights were caught without enough defenders back.

"The lapses on defense have cost us all year and we have to keep working on them," Appels said.

Both teams got good looks in extra time, as a shot from St. Francis' Derek Bell got past Chaminade's goalie, but just rolled out of play.

Chaminade nearly scored off a corner kick in extra time as an Eagles header rattled off the left post to keep the score square.

"We had a few mistakes in the beginning and talked about coming back hard in the end and we didn't do it as well as we liked to," Laterza said.

The Golden Knights will look to get back on track against rival Loyola High at home on Saturday at 1 p.m.

"It's a huge rivalry game," Appels said. "We just have to eliminate a few of the mistakes. They're an excellent team that's traditionally been a winner, so we have to understand we can't make mistakes and hope to come back."

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