In a game with huge Avocado West League championship implications, the Torrey Pines boys soccer team scored four goals in the first 20 minutes Tuesday night, Feb. 11, en route to a 5-0 runaway victory at Canyon Crest Academy.
The win lifted the No. 1-ranked Falcons to 17-3-2 overall, 7-1-1 in Avocado West play and allowed them to leapfrog CCA in the standings. Torrey Pines now owns a two-point advantage over the No. 13 Ravens (10-4-6/6-1-2) with just one game apiece remaining.
There is always plenty of anticipation leading into this match-up and expectations were ratcheted up higher than normal when Canyon Crest pinned a 2-0 home loss on the Torrey Pines 19 days earlier. After near misses in each of the last three years, Head Coach Tom Lockhart’s club was in position to lock up its first-ever Avocado West title.
Instead it was defending CIF Open Division champion Torrey Pines emerging with control of its own destiny and a third consecutive Avocado West crown clearly in its sights. With senior Chris Tonelli contributing a pair of first class goals, the Falcons’ early blitz took the suspense out of the rematch in short order. Head Coach Andy Hargreaves had a simple explanation.
“We got all our guns back,” he said. “This year, because of injuries, we’ve never had all of these players together at the same time.
“Their technical ability, speed of play and decision-making are all really good and with this lineup we’re going to be capable of attacking quickly and effectively.” They demonstrated that from the outset.
Three minutes into the first half, right after stopping a dangerous CCA opportunity, the Falcons put together a multi-pass counter that ended with sophomore Charlie Kosakoff feeding wide-open junior Cody Black (both players who missed the first clash with Canyon Crest) for the game’s first score and Black’s first of the season.
Four minutes later, senior Joel Kosakoff (Charlie’s older brother) corralled a long break out pass up the right side, delivered a precise cross that Tonelli headed into the upper corner. In the 13th minute, Tonelli was again in the middle of the action, sending a cross of his own in front of the net that went past CCA keeper Eli Sanchez and off an onrushing Raven defender, barely crossing the goal line to make it 3-0.
With 20:15 still left on the clock, Tonelli put on an impressive burst to beat a defender and then Sanchez to a long lead pass up the left side from Charlie Kosakoff, deftly hooked it around the onrushing goalkeeper, spinning it lightly off the far post for his second goal of the night and eighth of the season. Tonelli was happy to be back on the field and having an impact.
“It was an awesome game and those were two of the best goals I’ve ever had,” said Tonelli, in just his second appearance following an injury layoff that included the first clash with CCA. “On the first one, I got a great turn on the defender, he fell over and I was able to head it top left—it felt unbelievable.”
Adding insult to injury, just seconds before halftime, from a scrum in the six-yard box, Joel Kosakoff lifted a ball to the right front area where Charlie Kosakoff adeptly volleyed it home from close range.
While junior Luis Martinez took over from senior Nick Bello in the net to complete Torrey Pines’ 12th shutout of the year, the five-goal advantage, allowed Hargreaves to rest the majority of his weaponry in the second half Afterward, he had praise for Tonelli’s performance. “Chris has been out four-or-five games,” said Hargreaves. “We wanted him to be healthy so we’ve been patient and he looked really fast tonight—when he got in behind no one could catch him.”
Although both teams put in the work, the second half was a bit anticlimactic. After the final whistle, Lockhart was disappointed but kept things in perspective. “They came out really intense and we didn’t commit defensively so there were some big gaps,” said Lockhart. “They’re a very dangerous team and took advantage; what did they score, three goals in 10 minutes?
“It was a little frustrating, though, down 3-0 with still the majority of the game remaining, we had several good one-on-one chances and couldn’t finish them—kicked them right into the goalie three times. You bury one of those or maybe two, it’s a different game and maybe shifts the momentum a little bit.
“I was a little afraid that we might have woke the sleeping bear a little bit last time we played.”
Both teams close out regular season and Avocado West play Thursday, Feb. 13. Torrey Pines hosts fifth place La Costa Canyon, while Canyon Crest travels to face fourth place Carlsbad which has won its last two. A Torrey win or a CCA loss or tie would cinch the Avo West title outright for the Falcons while CCA’s hopes are pinned to a win coupled with a TP loss. If Torrey ties and CCA wins, the two teams would be deadlocked at the top.
CIF Playoffs start next week. Torrey Pines is assured of an Open Division slot while Canyon Crest is still in the hunt for one of the final berths. Hargreaves displayed his typical optimism as he looked ahead.
“We win Thursday, we win the league, that was goal one,” he said. “We win three more games and we’ll be CIF champions, that would be goal two. Then there’s State—that’s No. 3. We’ve still got everything in front of us.”