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Boys' Soccer: First loss costly for Sage

Lightning's unbeaten regular season, Academy League title bid, ruined by late Tartans' goal.

February 13, 2014|By Barry Faulkner

The Sage Hill boys' soccer team came within about 90 seconds of an unbeaten regular season and a share of the Academy League championship Thursday.

But first-year coach Gabriel Lucatero said following the Lightning's heartbreaking 1-0 loss to visiting St. Margaret's that his team may have taken away a memento that will serve them even better moving forward.

"It does sting and I told them I was just as bothered by the loss as they were," Lucatero said after his team gave up the game-winning goal early in the 79th minute of the battle between teams that both entered the regular-season-ending showdown 10-0-1 in league play. "But I do want them to remember the feeling [of losing] moving forward. Let's not go through the same type of situation where we have those feelings at the end of a match."

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The hard feelings were evident among Sage players, many of whom dropped to the turf and lay prone for minutes following the final whistle. Some on the Lightning roster were sobbing during the postgame team huddle, in which Lucatero offered praise, consolation and the aforementioned motivation about the upcoming CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs that begin next week.

Sage Hill (14-1-2, 10-1-1), ranked tied for No. 10 in Division 6, had hoped that an unbeaten season and the outright league title would at least create a guaranteed home match to open the playoffs. Now, they will await a 50-50 chance of getting a home game, or boarding a bus in a division known for the vast Southern California expanse it covers.

Instead, the Tartans (16-4-4, 11-0-1), who are unbeaten in league at least the last two seasons and have won the league crown at least the last three years, will play host to their initial section playoff encounter. For the No. 5-ranked team in CIF Division 6, the win may also lead to a top-four seeding for the San Juan Capistrano-based school.

"These games are always fun and its a big rivalry for us," said St. Margaret's sophomore Dane Lind, who scored the lone goal on a flurry in front with the help of an assist by Freddy Hudoff.

Lind was a constant in the scoring sequence that began after a Sage Hill foul produced a free kick 24 yards directly in front of the goal.

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