By Stephen Ramirez
SANTA FE SPRINGS — St. Paul High School was one game short of a Santa Fe League boys soccer title last season.
The Swordsmen’s goal this season has been to make up the gap, and they continued in that quest Friday.
Michael Lara had a goal and two assists and Alexander Corpus scored two goals and host St. Paul stayed in first place with a 3-0 victory over St. Pius-St. Matthias Academy.
The Swordsmen improved to 13-5 overall and 6-0 in league play. They are ranked No. 6 in CIF Southern Section Division 7.
The Warriors slipped to 3-5-2 and 1-3-1.
“Leadership has been a big thing (this year),” St. Paul coach Daniel Alvarez said. “The boys have responded in everything I’ve told them. They really want to win. They are hungry.”
The Swordsmen played that way Friday, and got off to a quick start. Lara got loose down the center and scored from inside the penalty area in the fifth minute for a 1-0 lead.
He added to the advantage in the 38th and 40th minutes. Lara again got free and made a perfect cross pass to a hard-charging Corpus, who tapped it in the open net for a 2-0 lead with just over two minutes left in the first half.
The two combined again two minutes later. Lara got open down the right side and Corpus converted Lara’s cross pass with a shot for a 3-0 lead with about 20 seconds left in the half.
“I saw the opening,” said Lara of the surge that produced the final two goals. “I knew I was faster than the defenders and I just went for it.”
St. Paul was dominant for much of the game, outshooting St. Pius-St. Matthias, 12-1 in the first half and 16-4 for the game.
The win was the Swordsmen’s eighth consecutive victory and their ninth during their past 11 games. They stayed at least one game ahead of St. Anthony, who beat St. Paul for the title last season. The Swordsmen scored a 2-0 win over the Saints two weeks ago.
“We could have won last year,” Lara said. “It was silly mistakes (vs. St. Anthony) that cost us. We came up short last year and this year we just really want it more.”