#10 Luke Sheffey delivered the game-winning goal to secure the Chanel League title for San Marcos. | Credit: Gary Kim

Miguel Mondragon and Luke Sheffey combined to deliver the only goal of the match as the San Marcos High boys’ soccer team claimed its second consecutive Channel League title with a 1-0 victory over Santa Barbara on Friday night at Warkentin Stadium.

After a shocking tie against Santa Ynez in its previous match the Royals fell a couple points behind Santa Barbara in the standings and needed a victory to be league champions.  The two teams played to a scoreless draw in their first encounter on Monday, so for San Marcos the objective was clear. 

The Royals needed a goal and they got it.

“I guess It clarified what we needed to do tonight. Honestly we had several plans that all involved, ‘here is what we are going to do if we are tied at this point of the game,’” said San Marcos coach Paul Mclean. “It provided some clarity in that we had to win as opposed to being able to tie and sharing the title.” 

After a scoreless first half the Royals were awarded a free kick in the 45th minute from about 35 yards out. Mondragon, a four year varsity player and a magician with the ball, placed the free kick perfectly and Sheffey was ready at the other end with a spectacular header into the back of the net. 

“We just had everybody lined up on the 18 and I just saw the ball rise, I jumped as high as I could and just put it in the goal,” said Sheffey of his game-winning goal. “I didn’t even see the keeper, I just saw the ball go into the net.”

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Even more impressive than the goal was the play of the San Marcos defense, which held a stacked Santa Barbara lineup without a goal twice in one week. 

Trailing by a goal in the second half the Dons pressed the attack for the reminder of the game to no avail. In the 71st minute Rockwood Foster sent a right-footed shot towards goal, but it went off the post.as Santa Barbara never got the bounce they needed to even the score.

“Their back four is just really solid. They are very well coached and they are disciplined,” said Santa Barbara coach Ricardo Alcaraz Cuellar. “They don’t get up and down the field that much, they just kind of stay back there.”

Both teams will advance to the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. The playoff brackets for boys soccer will be released on Tuesday.

“One of our goals was the Channel League, but we didn’t get it so now we have to move on to our next goal which is winning CIF,” said Alcaraz Cuellar. “I think we have the kids to do it. We just need to turn it on as quickly as possible.”

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