It was a test of maintaining focus for the Santa Barbara High boys soccer team, and the Dons passed with flying colors on Tuesday night.
With a big match on Thursday against Dos Pueblos, they didn’t look past San Marcos, romping to a 5-0 Channel League win at La Playa Stadium.
The victory extended Santa Barbara’s unbeaten streak to 14 games and improved its records to 12-3-3 and 2-0 in league play. San Marcos falls to 4-10-2, 0-2.
Santa Barbara was all business as it used its superior strength and ball control to overwhelm the Royals.
“Our focus was on San Marcos tonight,” Santa Barbara coach Todd Heil said. “We were making sure everything was about SM and not try to get ahead of ourselves. That’s always the kiss of death when you look to far ahead.”
The onslaught started in the 13th minute on a beautiful link-up between centerback Tony Alfaro and forward Edgar Ruiz. Alfaro hit Ruiz on the run to create a one-on-one confrontation with the San Marcos goalkeeper. He ripped a shot through the keeper’s hands and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
One minute later, the Dons’ front line all got a touch on the ball before Marco Sanchez finished to make it to 2-0. The pretty sequence started with Ruiz taking the ball down the right flank and crossing on the ground to Alfredo Ibarra, who was making the center run. Ibarra tapped it to his left for Sanchez, who put it away.
Santa Barbara added a third goal before halftime on a long throw into the box by Jelan Hutton from the left side. The San Marcos goalkeeper came out to grab the ball but missed it and Ibarra headed the ball into the open net.
The dominating lead allowed Santa Barbara coach Todd Heil to go to his bench early. He said he ran nine players up front during the game, which enabled the Dons to keep high pressure on San Marcos’ defense and rest players for Thursday night.
The Santa Barbara-DP game is a rematch of last year’s CIF Division 2 Final, won by the Dons 3-0 before 8,000 fans at UCSB’s Harder Stadium. The teams met in the final of the Buena Tournament last week and Santa Barbara won 5-3 in a penalty-kick shootout after a scoreless draw in regulation.
The rematch will be played at SBCC at 6 p.m.
Albert Hernandez completed the scoring on Tuesday with a pair of goals in the second half. His first came off an impressive volley from 24 yards and the final goal came when his corner kick zipped through the goalkeeper’s hands and into the far side netting.
First-year San Marcos coach Scott Holt said his team needs to work on some basics on the field and its confidence.
“I am more concerned not about getting scored upon but how we respond when we get scored upon,” he said. “We fought hard and we gave them a couple of goals that they didn’t earn.”
Holt cited the play of Eli Harris on the back line.