Defense and timely scoring has boys soccer team boasting a 9-1 record
By Steve Breazeale
Heading into the 2012 season San Clemente boys soccer head coach Mike Pronier wasn’t sure who would make up his back line defense. Highly touted Academy League defender Colin McDermott was on the roster, along with newly converted defensive players from last year’s squad. The veteran coach was trying out different lineups and configurations throughout the offseason, trying to find the right group that would be able to hold down opposing offenses. On paper, the Tritons looked strong from the midfield up, and defense was the proverbial question mark.
But now with 10 games under their belts, seven of which were defensive shutouts, the Triton defense has been the surprise of the early season.
The Tritons stand at 9-1, thanks in large part to their defensive efforts. After giving up one goal to Corona Del Mar in the season opener on November 27, the Tritons defense clamped down, not allowing a goal until a 3-0 loss against Carlsbad on December 5 broke a streak of roughly 320 minutes of clean sheet soccer. The Tritons have won four straight contests since the loss.
“I was concerned about some things in the defense but the defenders have had their moments…They’ve been better than I had planned in the early going,” Pronier said. “There were signs of (the defense) not challenging in the box in the summer…but they’re coming together and they’re still figuring who’s going to be the starters…The kids are focused and they’re getting it done now.”
There has also been a battle in the net for the Tritons as sophomore goalie Cole Martinez and Dylan Digiacomo have split time at the position. Pronier has not given the permanent starter job to either of the players just yet, and will hold off on doing so for the foreseeable future.
The Tritons will no doubt need to rely on their defense as they play host to visiting Paramount on December 14 in a game that is slated to start at 5 p.m. at San Clemente High.
Paramount comes into the match as the reigning three-time CIF-SS Division 3 champion and Pronier has had the team from Los Angeles on his radar since the start of the offseason. The game against the Pirates will be followed by games against Santa Ana and Dana Hills, respectively, before the Tritons head east to play in the Phoenix Arizona Showcase in late December. The frequency of games and quality of opponents faced is all part of Pronier’s plan to ready his team for South Coast League play.
“(The game against Paramount) is what I call a ‘Name Game’ for us…They’re a good team with a solid squad that I wanted us to play,” Pronier said. “We’re trying to set a schedule where we can get as diverse as (a team) can.”