Zerboni lifts San Clemente to title at San Marcos Invitational

Two years ago, the San Clemente boys soccer team beat Santa Barbara High and Bakersfield?s Golden Valley en route to a CIF Regional Championship.

The Tritons followed a similar path to win the first San Marcos Invitational title. They knocked off Santa Barbara 3-1 to take first place in their group and then defeated Golden Valley 1-0 in the tournament championship match on Saturday.

The tournament didn?t name an MVP, but San Clemente?s Gage Zerboni was deserving of the award. The senior attacking midfielder scored the game-winners in both games on Saturday and was dangerous every time he touched the ball.

In the final, he hit a 30-yard ball from the right wing that banked off the far post and into the net behind a defenseless Golden Valley goalkeeper Elmer Ayon in the 52nd minute

?Honestly, I was trying to cross it,? admitted Zerboni, who’s made a commitment to UCLA. ?I was just hoping it would get on someone?s head, thankfully it banked off the post and went in.?

Golden Valley almost scored the equalizer in a similar fashion. In the 64th minute, forward Saratiel Campos booted a 30-yard cross from the right wing that clanked off the far post but bounced back into the field of play.

Golden Valley played the last 25 minutes with 10 players after forward Brian Cano was issued a red card for running into San Clemente sophomore goalkeeper Cole Martinez.

Despite playing a game earlier in the day, San Clemente and Golden Valley turned in a quality performance in the final. Both teams were solid in the back and had standout attacking players.

San Clemente is ranked No. 1 in Orange County and No. 4 in the CIF Division 1.

Santa Barbara High defender Peter Gamboa tries to settle the ball while being pressured by a forward from Capistrano Valley.

Santa Barbara finished third in the tournament by beating Division 1 No. 8-ranked Capistrano Valley 2-0.

Alec Larson scored in the third minute off a slick assist from freshman Brandon Sanchez and Rufino Sanchez tallied the second goal, beating a defender out wide and firing a shot inside the far post.

?It was a good response from the morning loss. It was good to get an early goal,? Santa Barbara coach Todd Heil said.

It was the fifth shutout in six matches for the Dons (5-1).

Santa Barbara gave up its first goal of the season against San Clemente, but the Dons responded two minutes later on a goal by Matt Medina.

Zerboni put the Tritons into the lead in the 52nd minute by heading in a crossing ball.

In other action, San Marcos finished group play with a 4-0 win over Santa Maria, Hueneme blanked Righetti 5-0 and Golden Valley edged Capo Valley 2-1.

Hueneme beat San Marcos 2-1 in the fifth-place game and Santa Maria topped Righetti 2-0 in the seventh-place match.


  1. Golden Valley had some great skill, combined with speed and acceleration….. They will do well. If not for our deeper roster we may have not survived after four games in two days. Both Golden Valley and Santa Barbara are quality opponents and we relish the level of competition they provide… Good weekend for us but we respect all the teams we played… Thanks MP