St. Francis High soccer comes up short against Harvard-Westlake

STUDIO CITY — Career victory No. 400 continues to remain elusive for St. Francis High soccer Coach Glen Appels.

While the veteran coach, who has guided the Golden Knights to three CIF Southern Section championships and one CIF Southern California Division II Regional Championship since taking over the program in 1989, would like to achieve the milestone, he’s more concerned about the Golden Knights getting on track in the Mission League.

“I’m not worried [about getting the 400th career victory],” said Appels, whose team suffered a 3-1 league road loss against Harvard-Westlake on Monday. “I want to see the guys get a good result for playing good soccer.

“I’m going to be here for a long time. I want to see us get that first league win and have it jump-start the guys the rest of the way.”

Appels, who guided the Golden Knights to an appearance in the playoffs last season, will attempt to reach No. 400 with a league road match against Crespi at 5 p.m. Wednesday. St. Francis will then take on host Loyola, ranked No. 2 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division I poll, in a league contest at 3:15 p.m. Friday.

Appels came tantalizingly close to achieving the milestone last Wednesday against visiting Alemany in a league opener. However, the Golden Knights yielded a game-tying goal in the final minute to end up in a 2-2 deadlock.

On Monday, St. Francis (3-5-2, 0-1-1 in league) never led against Harvard-Westlake (5-4-1, 2-1). The Golden Knights surrendered a pair of first-half goals before cutting the deficit late in the first half. Harvard-Westlake added an insurance goal in the closing moments of the second half.

The Wolverines took a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute on a goal down the left side by an unmarked Jack Temko, who beat St. Francis starting goalkeeper Ernesto Rivero. Harvard-Westlake made it 2-0 when Max Rolnick deflected in a nice cross from Addison Abdo in the 32nd minute.

St. Francis responded with about a minute left in the first half when an off-balance Paolo Ramirez tucked a rolling shot past Harvard-Westlake goalkeeper Jono Klein.

The Golden Knights had a couple of good scoring opportunities in the second half, but couldn’t convert. Benjamin Gabella of St. Francis lined a 15-yard shot just wide of the right post in the 56th minute.

Harvard-Westlake closed out the scoring on a goal by Cole Fletcher in the 77th minute against reserve goalkeeper Mark Garcia, who made three nice saves in the second half.

Garcia, a sophomore, said the Golden Knights would like to snap their brief winless streak and have Appels enjoy another milestone.

“It’s going to be a special thing because he’s our coach,” said Garcia, who registered four saves. “We really want to get him that next win.”

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