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Santa Maria's boys soccer team is going to the championship game.

The Saints defeated Los Angeles’ Fremont High 3-2 Thursday afternoon in the CIF State Southern California Regional Division 2 semifinals to win a date in Saturday’s SoCal title game.

The Saints got on the board early when Andres Montano scored off an Ivan Estrada pass in the second minute of the game.

The Pathfinders found their way to the net three minutes later, tying the game at 1-all in the fifth minute.

“They had some speed on their side. They moved the ball side-to-side and really gave us a hard time,” said Santa Maria High coach Eduardo Cuna in a telephone interview after the game. “And it was 75 degrees in Los Angeles and we’re not used to playing in that kind of heat.”

The two teams battled back and forth for the next 25 minutes before Estrada was able to find Saul Aysuo in scoring position, lofted a perfect pass and Ayuso pounded the ball into the net.

“At halftime, we made some adjustments and our defense really came through, giving us the ability to pull off the win,” said Cuna. “Marino Corona in the middle, Diego Villagran and the Tanner brothers, Migual and Samuel, played some solid defense and kept them from getting any real good scoring chances.

“Ayuso, with his playmaking ability, was setting people up for goals and scoring himself is probably our biggest asset.”

Brian Aquino then put the Saints up 3-1 in the midway through the second half with a goal off an Ayuso pass.

Two minutes later, Fremont scored but the Saints were able to work the ball through the middle while playing solid defense to keep the Pathfinders away from the Santa Maria goal and run off with the win.

The Saints path to the title game was made more difficult when starting goal keeper Jose Hernandez had to sit the game out after jamming his fingers in the Saints’ 5-1 victory over Golden West in their first round match.

Gabriel Torres took over in the net, grabbing four saves while keeping his team alive.

“The name of the game is possession,” said Cuna. “Our game is flawless when Saul Ayuso get possession of the ball. Saul will be playing in the All-CIF All-Star game on Saturday, March  18, at Estancia High.

The Saints, the No. 7 seed, will play at overall No. 1 seed Santa Ana Godinez Saturday at 4 p.m. for the SoCal title. Godinez beat Valencia of Placentia 3-0 on Thursday.

The state's northern divisions have different soccer seasons — some play in the fall, others in the winter and still others in the spring. That means Saturday's game in the SoCal Regionals is the Saints' final game of the season.

Boys tennis

St. Joseph 10, Paso Robles 8

St. Joseph’s singles players dominated, winning seven of nine sets, in the Knights’ PAC 8 league-opening boys tennis match at Paso Robles.

No. 1 singles player Avnish Bhatt swept his three sets 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.

“Avnish played the final set of the day. We were up 9-8 going in and his win gave us the 10th point we needed to get us the victory,” said St. Joseph coach Ray Cavasos.

At No. 2, Ben Haskell also swept all three, 6-0, 6-4, 7-5 with No. 3 Christian Tullos winning one set 6-4.

The No. 1 doubles team of Nick Malin and Nick Stader also swept, 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 for the Knights’ only doubles points.

St. Joseph (4-1, 1-0 PAC 8) next hosts Pioneer Valley on Tuesday. 

Templeton 11, Santa Ynez 7

Santa Ynez ran into a tough Templeton team, winning just two sets in singles and four in doubles in a Los Padres League loss at Templeton.

The No. 2 doubles team of Darrin Hinkins and Keegan McCool won two sets. No 1 doubles Kurt Beehler and Jaxson Urban and No. 3 doubles Eric Mailes and Ryan Casey each won as set as did No. 1 singles player Braxton Johnson and No. 2 singles Robert Meyer.

Santa Ynez (3-3, 1-1 LPL) next hosts Nipomo on Tuesday. 

Boys golf

St. Joseph wins by forfeit

The St. Joseph Knights defeated the Pioneer Valley Panthers in a PAC 8 League boys golf match when the Panthers were only able to field three players, leading to a forfeit.

The Knights’ Luke Adam earned medalist honors, shooting a 79 at the Par 72 Santa Maria Country Club course.

He was followed by Isaiah Rocha (99), Garyson Arnsdorf (110), Luke’s cousin Henry Adam (113) and James Porter (130).

The Panthers were led by Jose Torres who shot a 109 and was followed by Allan Vonostand (120) and Justin Thomas (130).

St. Joseph (1-1) next plays Arroyo Grande on Tuesday at Cypress Ridge.

Boys tennis

Pioneer Valley 8, Mission Prep 5

The Panthers (3-2, 1-0) won six of the nine doubles sets as they beat the Royals to win their PAC 8 League opener.

Each team had only eight players. A full team is nine.

Oliver Peregrin and Manuel Lopez swept 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 at No. 1 doubles for the Panthers. Pioneer Valley tandems Luis Carpintero and Michael Labastida, and Ramon Lemus and Alexis Salgado each won two sets.

Isiah Guerrero and Edgar Jiminez each split two singles sets for Pioneer Valley.

Morro Bay 10, Santa Maria 9

This Los Padres League match started at 3:30 p.m. and ended at 7 p.m.

The teams tied 9-9 in sets. Since they were all even in games, at 68-all, the teams played a round of tiebreaks. They wound up tied again, at 81-all in points.

The Pirates finally prevailed, 95-90, in the second round of tiebreaks.

Before the tiebreaks started, Clark Kringel and Kevin Carbajal both won two singles sets for the Saints.

Arthur Miranda and Gabe Ramiro swept 7-5, 6-0, 6-0 in regulation at No. 1 doubles. Cesar Velasco and Erik Velasco won twice at No. 2 doubles in regulation.

Miranda and Ramiro won five of their six tiebreaks. Carbajal went 4-2.

Lompoc 9, Orcutt Academy 9 (65-62 Lompoc, games)

The Braves edged the Spartans (1-3, 0-2) by three games in a Los Padres League match at the Hancock courts.

Trong Ngo and Michael McGinty both swept three singles sets for the Braves. McGinty lost just one game.

Orcutt tandems Kyle Wells and Garrett Ederer, and Jordan Mangayao and William Jin each swept three doubles sets. Wells and Ederer lost one game. Mangayao and Jin dropped two.

Arroyo Grande 17, Righetti 1

The Eagles' four doubles teams didn't lose a game as Arroyo Grande (3-1, 1-0) won this PAC 8 League opener in a rout at Arroyo Grande.

Tandems Tyler Tencati and Austin Bricker, and Patrick Angle and Parker Turner each won three sets. Brett MacDonald and Dylan Black won two sets, and Isaiah Sczbecki and Caleb Marquis won one.

Kalen Corral won a singles set for the Warriors.     

Baseball

Santa Ynez 6, Lompoc 1

The Pirates (6-2, 4-0) stayed unbeaten in Los Padres League play with a win over the Braves at home.

"Our infield defense was stellar, just outstanding," said Santa Ynez coach Warren Dickey. "They stopped a lot of rallies against a very good hitting team."

Santa Ynez catcher Dusty Gregg went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs. Jasper Kadlec also went 2-for-3. He scored two runs.

Ethan Usher pitched a three-hit complete game for the Pirates. He struck out four batters and walked one.

The Santa Ynez infield consisted of first baseman Colin Jamison, second baaseman Travis Welker, shortstop Cole Knightley and third baseman Casey Hickman.

Boys golf

Righetti 427, Atascadero 486

Medalist Keith Moles led the Warriors to a PAC 8 League win over the Greyhounds at Rancho Maria Golf Course.

Moles shot a 76. Teammates following were Joe Moles (78), Daniel Nelson (85), Duran Solis (88) and Prescott Brown (100).

Austin McMillin led the Greyhounds with an 86.

Boys swimming

Righetti 158, Arroyo Grande 156

In a PAC 8 League opener, the Warriors (3-0, 1-0) edged the perennial PAC 8 powerhouse at Arroyo Grande's pool.

The Eagles won nine of the 11 events, but the Warriors had enough depth to prevail.

Ryan Trenev and the Righetti 200 freestyle relay team were the Warriors' winners. Trenev won the 50 freestyle in 22.12, a consideration time for the CIF Southern Section Division 2 Preliminaries.

Trenev teamed with Roert Groppetti, Clay Muscio and Caleb Sanders for a win in 1:31.70 in the 200 free relay, a consideration time for the prelims.

Arroyo Grande's 200 medley relay team of Jared Martin, Kevin Virnig, Trent Schachter and Nathan Solis won in 1:40.90, an automatic qualifying time for the Division 2 prelims.

Schachter qualified automatically for the Division 2 prelims in the 100 butterfly with a win in 52.39. His winning time of 55.57 in the 100 backstroke was a consideration time for the divisional prelims.

Every winner at the meet swam either an automatic qualifying or consideration time for the divisional prelims. Virnig swam consideration times in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke. James Hazel swam consideration times in the 200 and 500 freestyles.

Girls swimming

Arroyo Grande 194, Righetti 121

The Eagles (1-0 PAC 8 League) won this league opener at the Arroyo Grande pool.

Arroyo Grande's Hannah Parson won the 50 freestyle in 25.05 seconds, an automatic qualifying time for the CIF Southern Section Division 2 Preliminaries. Teammate Paige Leonard won the 100 backstroke in 1:02.47, another automatic qualifying time for the divisional prelims. 

All three Arroyo Grande relay teams won in consideration times for the divisional prelims. The Eagles' Sam Hazel (2:17.46 200 individual medley) and Parson (55.26, 100 freestyle) won in consideration time for the divisional prelims.

Righetti's Isabella Fraire won the 100 breaststroke in 1:09.17, an automatic qualifying time for the divisional prelims. Fraire won the 200 individual medley in 2:17.05, a consideration time for the divisional preliminaries.

Softball

Arroyo Grande 3, Santa Ynez 2

In this non-league game at Arroyho Grande, the Pirates (4-1) scored the first runs the Eagles (4-0) have allowed this year, but they also took their first loss of the year.

"I"m just so proud of the girls for the way they battled," said Santa Ynez coach Denicia Gills. "We had the potential tying run on third base in the top of the seventh.

"They are a very good hitting team, and I'm very proud of the way Armani (Santa Ynez pitcher Garcia) pitched. She kept them off-balance most of the time." Garcia, a freshman, allowed six hits. The Pirates had three.

Going in, PAC 8 League member Arroyo Grande had out-scored three Los Padres League teams by a combined 33-0. The Pirates play in the LPL.

St. Joseph 10, Lompoc 8

The Knights (2-3) won this non-league game at their St. Louis de Montfort field, but St. Joseph coach Jon Valencia singled out a player on the opposing team for his biggest compliment.

"They threw a kid out there in the third inning against us who had seven brain surgeries," he said. "One of our batters hit a shot, and she put her glove up (and managed to deflect it). It's just amazing that she was even out there."

Paige Hugenard went 2-for-2 for the Knights, and Hallie Hunter was 2-for-3 with a double. Valencia said Hunter's double staked St. Joseph to a four-run fifth inning.

Boys volleyball

Santa Ynez 3, Morro Bay 0

After being out two weeks with an ankle injury, Santa Ynez setter Alec Peterschick racked up 31 assists, an ace and a block and Santa Ynez swept Morro Bay 25-14, 25-20, 25-15 at Morro Bay in this battle of the Pirates.

Santa Ynez (2-4, 1-0) opened its Los Padres League season with a win.

"Morro Bay is a very strong team, they have a lot of guys back and I was very proud of how our guys responded," said Santa Ynez coach Chip Fenenga.

Santa Ynez, Templeton and Morro Bay are the LPL teams that regularly make the playoffs.

Blake Hadley amassed 16 kills and three blocks for the Pirates. Nate Rogers made eight digs, served three aces and "was a master at passing," said Fenenga.

Paso Robles 3, St. Joseph 2

The Bearcats edged the Knights (3-2, 0-1) 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 14-25, 15-13 in a PAC 8 League opener at Paso Robles.

Matthew Plummer amassed 30 assists, four digs and two kills for the Knights. Landon Ma'a racked up 12 kills two digs and an ace and Jacob Swanson had eight kills, two blocks and an ace.

Arroyo Grande 3, Righetti 0

Ernesto Gonzalez made 10 digs for the Warriors (1-3, 0-1) who dropped this PAC 8 League opener 25-13, 25-9, 25-16 to the Eagles at Arroyo Grande.  

Pioneer Valley 3, Mission Prep 1

The Panthers scored a PAC 8 League win, beating the Royals 25-8, 18-25, 25-22 and 25-13.

Senior Emerson Ritualo had five kills, Joey Aguilera added four kills and a pair of aces, Erik Ruiz dished out 17 assists and Alex Garcia added five kills. Nick Equihua led the Panthers with five blocks.

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Senior Sports Reporter