Shorthanded Crusaders top the Cubs as they close in on league title

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Action from Tuesday’s game at Crusader Field.

A shorthanded St. Bernard’s team took another big step toward retaining its league title with a 1-0 win over South Fork at Crusader Field in Little 4 girls soccer on Tuesday afternoon.

The victory, coupled with Ferndale’s 0-0 tie against Del Norte, leaves the Crusaders three points clear at the top of the league standings with just two games remaining.

A win at home against Del Norte on Friday afternoon would secure the Little 4 pennant outright.

The Crusaders, who have multiple players playing multiple sports, were missing a number of key starters who were playing volleyball or golf on Tuesday, as well as a couple who are battling injuries.

But the players on hand stepped up to the challenge and secured the win to remain unbeaten in seven league games and improve to 6-0-1.

“Lots of girls played new positions and were successful,” St. Bernard’s head coach Brian Finck said. “It was a well-earned team win.”

Freshman Malia Masayos scored the only goal of the game, pouncing on a loose ball that was bouncing around in front of goal.

She wasn’t the only young player to shine, with fellow freshmen Tierra Baty, Andrea Torres-Zuniga, Paula Bullock and Chloe Grunden all playing more minutes than usual and stepping up.

So too did junior Aliyah Vigil, who moved to sweeper and “did an outstanding job,” according to the coach, while keeping the Cubs offense in check.

Sophomore Aurora Galaz returned from injury to take over in goal for South Fork and had a “great game,” according to head coach Ann Constantino.

Galaz enjoyed a very good freshman campaign between the posts a year ago.

The loss was the seventh in league play for the Cubs, and their third to the Crusaders, but they’ve shown steady improvement in each game against SB, pushing the league leaders closer each time.

“We struggled a little to find each other in the field, but are glad to finish the season series with them on a closer result,” Constantino said.

Next up for the Cubs is a trip to Ferndale on Thursday.

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