Soccer St. Anthony

CIF Boys’ Soccer: St. Anthony Falls In First Quarterfinal

It wasn’t easy, but St. Anthony boys’ soccer made school history this season by reaching its first CIF Southern Section Division 7 quarterfinal. However, the Saints saw their playoff run come to an end with a 2-1 loss to Foothill Tech on Tuesday at Clark Field.

St. Anthony (13-8-1) scored first in the 34th minute on a penalty kick that was drawn and converted by Taylor Griffiths. Foothill Tech (15-6-3) answered with a pair of goals in the 48th and 58th minutes to advance to the semifinals.

“Obviously they came out and were the better team in the second half, and we were never able to get going,” St. Antony coach Ruben Gonzalez said. “You have to give them credit.”

Foothill Tech outshot St. Anthony 18-10 while adjusting to the bumpy natural playing surface at Clark Field. Zach Noah’s header off a corner kick and Jacob Girardot’s converted PK off a hand ball proved to be the difference.

“It’s hard to play on this field, and it’s not an excuse, but we were trying to play soccer and just couldn’t,” Gonzalez said. “Maybe they realized the things they usually do on turf they couldn’t do here, and they were able to adjust to it… they were faster than us on every ball.”

St. Anthony’s historic postseason run is even more impressive considering coach Gonzalez has only been with the team for a month. Coach Matt Dold, who started the season with the Saints, left the team four weeks ago. That forced athletics director Chris Morrison to find a new coach quickly, and he called an old friend.

“Finding Ruben was kind of a blessing,” Morrison said. “I taught with him at Bishop Amat, so I’ve always kept in touch with him. When (Dold) decided he couldn’t finish with the team, I called Ruben and he just took the job. It was a no brainer.”

Gonzalez said his strategy coming in mid-season was to keep things simple, and it worked for the Saints. They won their first two playoff games 3-1 after finishing second in the Camino Real League. Gonzalez also coaches the women’s team at Cerritos College.

“When we came in we just asked them to play hard,” Gonzalez said of working with the Saints. “That’s all we could ask for. We didn’t make a lot of adjustments. We just tried to give them confidence and build from that going into the playoffs.”

“He’s been in the catholic school program at Amat,” Morrison said. “He knows the way the system works. I like the way he works with the kids.”

Asked if he wants to bring Gonzalez back for next season, Morrison didn’t hesitate to answer.

“He’s coming back. He can’t say no.”

VIDEO: St. Anthony vs. Foothill Tech, CIF Soccer

PHOTOS: St. Anthony vs. Foothill Tech, CIF Soccer

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.