Los Angeles Soccer: David Manrique

PREPS: Salesian makes it three for four

March, 12, 2011

Mark Johnson couldn't have been happier with the way his Salesian High School boys' soccer team performed in the first half of their Southern California Regional Championship title-game clash Saturday.

He even used the “B” word. As in “Barcelona.”

“That's what we talk about,” Johnson said after the Mustangs captured their third Division III regional title in four seasons with 4-1 romp over San Diego's Francis Parker at Warren High School in Downey. “When we got to the half, we said, 'You know, we played like Barcelona that half. Let's keep it up.”

Salesian (19-3-4) did keep it up, dominating their bigger foes with a possession game that led to dozens of chances.

Salesian, which has played in all four Division III finals and is the only school with more than one regional championship, went ahead on an eighth-minute own goal (with Parker's Patrick Barba superbly heading Jose Avila's free kick into his net), built a 3-0 advantage on strikes by David Manrique in the 27th and Giovanni Reynaga in the 43rd, then capped the triumph with Ricardo Cardenas' 60th-minute finale.

“We knew if we kept the ball on the ground and played our style of soccer, that we could take over the game, and I think from start to finish we really did that ...,” said Johnson, who guided Salesian to the Southern Section Division 4 semifinals this season after winning three of the previous four Division 5 championships. “We lost a lot from last year's [regional winner], and I think at the beginning of the season we didn't expect to be back here, but we kept getting better and better as the year wore on.

“Today I thought we played some of our best soccer of the season.”

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