Torrey Pines takes SoCal Classic crown

Torrey Pines junior Alexander Bejar controls the ball
Torrey Pines junior Alexander Bejar controls the ball ahead of San Clemente’s Timeus Truman in a 2-1 win for the National Division title in the SoCal High School Classic tournament.
(Glae Thien)

Even without starting goalkeeper for finale, the Falcons prevail


On the defensive end, Torrey Pines High’s Tye Barton repeatedly cleared the ball with headers in the finals of the 26th annual SoCal High School Classic boys soccer tournament

When the situation arose, the Falcons senior also converted a penalty kick for the winning score in a 2-1 victory over San Clemente for the National Division title at Oceanside High on Thursday, Dec. 30.

Whatever it takes, Barton has helped the Falcons (10-0-1) reach the midpoint of the season unbeaten with Coastal League play starting next week.

“We wanted to win this from day one,” said Barton, whose penalty kick came with 12 minutes left. “We want to go undefeated this season, so this is a big step for it. The team has played well together.”

The sixth straight Torrey Pines win came with reserve goalkeeper Wyatt Gardner making his first start in place of Elijah Mineiro, who started a family vacation after helping the Falcons take their first two tourney outings.

“I have a pretty good team, so it wasn’t that hard for me,” said Gardner, a senior who plays both wide receiver and defensive back for the football team. “I just stood in there and did what I could.”

Gardner made two impressive punch-out saves and stopped another shot with an extended foot as part of six saves overall that helped send the Tritons (5-1-2) to their first setback of the season.

Torrey Pines opened the scoring with three minutes before halftime when senior Mateo Pacelli converted a rebound that went off a defender near the goal line and then the cross bar following a corner kick.

“That was huge,” Pacelli said. “One of our main points is getting the early lead just to get a head start. It puts us in control the rest of the game and gives some breathing room while the other team is trying to scramble.”

San Clemente pulled even 1-1 at 14 minutes into the second half on a tap-in. But the Falcons regained control with the penalty kick that resulted from a foul drawn by striker Charlie Kosakoff.

Torrey Pines has been bolstered by the return of Kosakoff, playing his fifth game after being sidelined for 14 months because of hip surgery. He scored two goals in a 4-2 semifinal victory over Richmond on Wednesday, Dec. 29.

The Falcons hope to bid for their third San Diego Section Open Division crown in four years. They lost in the quarterfinals last spring in the delayed and abbreviated season because of the pandemic.

After going 9-3-3 last season, the Falcons already have more wins this year. Also, they own a 35-7 overall scoring edge.

“They’re awesome,” Torrey Pines coach Andy Hargreaves said. “They’re just a good soccer group.”

In the third-place game, San Dieguito (8-3-2) lost to Richmond 3-2 despite two goals by Gavin Culley. The Mustangs held a 1-0 halftime lead, but eventually fell on a deciding goal with two minutes left.

San Dieguito, which reached the Division II section final last season, has moved up to D-I this year.