LA CAÑADA - Victories and goal scoring have been nonexistent of late for the St. Francis High soccer team.
It’s led to St. Francis limping to the finish line with a playoff berth still to be claimed.
St. Francis had an opportunity to curb its woes and wrap up a trip to the postseason Monday night in a Mission League home match against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.
Unfortunately for St. Francis, it remained stagnant, surrendering three first-half goals en route to a 4-0 defeat.
“I’m disappointed with this effort and we had a nightmarish first half,” said St. Francis Coach Glen Appels, whose team was shut out for the fourth match in a row and hasn’t scored a goal since a 2-0 league win against Alemany on Jan. 23. “We haven’t gotten out of the gate early and we’ve been a step slower.”
St. Francis dropped to 6-10-5, 4-6-1 in league for third place with 13 points. Notre Dame improved to 11-4-7, 3-4-4 for 13 points. St. Francis and Notre Dame are tied for third place, with Crespi in fourth place at 2-4-5 in league for 11 points. Crespi had a bye Monday.
St. Francis will meet visiting Chaminade at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Notre Dame and Crespi will face off at 5 Wednesday at Notre Dame. The top four teams from league receive automatic playoff berths.
St. Francis hasn’t scored in its last 363 minutes. It last received a goal from Frankie Veiga in the 37th minute against Alemany.
Since then, St. Francis has fallen on hard times.
“I don’t know if it’s a lack of confidence,” said Appels, whose team posted a 2-1 win at Notre Dame on Jan. 16. “Notre Dame was first to almost every ball and took advantage of it.
“We had some defensive lapses and we also had some scoring chances.”
Notre Dame applied pressure to St. Francis throughout the first half, peppering St. Francis goalkeeper Luca Coppola with nine shots on goal.
Lucas Alfonso gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute on a direct kick that eluded Coppola.
Notre Dame extended its lead to 2-0 on a goal by Kyle Ause. Ause closed out the first-half scoring about a minute later.
“They were one step ahead of us,” said Coppola, who finished with eight saves. “I’m at a loss for words right now.
“It’s been real frustrating these last couple of games. Now, it’s win or go home [Wednesday]. I’m always positive. We have to be positive [Wednesday].”
Notre Dame wrapped up the scoring in the 60th minute on a breakaway goal by Ronaldo Lomeli.
Notre Dame Coach Patrick Thomsen said his team has recovered from its recent rash of injuries to make a late bid for a postseason berth.
“We are getting healthy after having some guys out with injuries and the flu,” said Thomsen, who got seven saves from goalkeeper Matthew Marcelino. “We had some problems putting the ball in the net because of that.
“We didn’t sit back when we got up 1-0 and 2-0. St. Francis has got a good team with some standout players.”
Appels said St. Francis will look to regroup against Chaminade, which St. Francis defeated, 4-1, in the first matchup Jan. 18.
“We know that we have to come out flying,” Appels said. “We have to be better.”