By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
LA CAADA FLINTRIDGE – The shots came from close range and far out. What they did not do was go in.
St. Francis High School took 23 shot attempts in its Mission League game against visiting Chaminade on Thursday evening. Only one went in.
The Eagles took seven shots. They scored with a minute to play for a 2-1 victory, sending the Golden Knights to their first league defeat of the season.
“We’ve caught some teams in the last minute, so I guess it is our time to deal with that,” St. Francis coach Glen Appels said.
Senior Nick Barbarino knocked in the game-winner with a minute remaining, scoring on a counterattack.
“That was crazy,” he said. “I have never scored so late in the game. It was crazy. That whole finish was crazy.”
He said it was his first high school goal.
“It was very hard,” he said. “I guess that was the best stretch in my life.”
The Golden Knights (8-7, 4-1) were making their best effort to break the tie late in the game. With four minutes to play, Sean Fitzpatrick had back-to-back throw-ins from near the corner in which St. Francis header attempts failed.
Chaminade (6-4-3, 4-2) got the ball to midfield, but a foul led to a free kick by Jake LaPorte 45 yards out with two minutes to play. It was knocked out of bounds by the Eagles and Eric Bocanegra’s corner kick led to a missed header attempt.
Chaminade quickly threw its counterattack with Jonathan Rose leading a three-on-two attack.
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“We just didn’t have guys dropping and we didn’t have enough guys back and we left a guy wide open on the counterattack,” Appels said. “I don’t know if the guys were pushing or eager to score.”
Rose, going down the sideline, sent a long pass to the back goalpost to Barbarino, who scored in the 79th minute. Goalkeeper Hector Carranza did not have a play on the shot.
St. Francis took 10 shots in the first half without scoring. Chaminade scored on their only shot attempt. Karam Gill’s free kick went to Jamie Bent, who headed the ball in 18 minutes into the game.
“We were terrible on defense,” Appels said of the play. “The guys were confused. They should have marked and they didn’t and our keeper didn’t come out. That goal was too easy when you leave a good player with a head ball. He’s going to score every single time.”
As much as Appels may have been disappointed in the two defensive lapses, it was the offense that bothered him more.
“The big thing is we should have scored five a half,” he said. “To leave all those chances, a team as good as Chaminade is going to make you pay for it. We got enough balls wide and across. If we had just finished a couple. We must have put 10 balls past the keeper that all we needed to do was finish. There were some guys who had a wide-open look.”
St Francis, more aggressive in the second half, scored in the 12th minute. La Porte sent a long pass to Fitzgerald, who hit a header. The ball went to Billy McCreary, who bent down and headed the ball in.
It was just one of those games, said the Knights’ Mark Verso, who had numerous scoring opportunities, mostly on headers.
“There are some games where you play really hard and really well and the other team finishes its chances,” he said. “You have to finish when you get the chances.”
Appels said the inability to score helped create the counterattack goal.
“What happens is the more the offense misses, the more pressure is on the defense,” he said.