Tiger Who?

Tritons Serve Up Just Desserts for Wolverines


A year ago, in their final South Coast League match against Aliso Niguel, the favored and ranked Tritons, playing at home, gave away a share of the league championship by conceding a goal with less than a minute left before full time.

Fast Forward to Tuesday, with the Aliso Niguel Wolverines once again visiting San Clemente’s own Thalassa Stadium. The difference is that this time, the Wolverines came in as the No. 5 team in Orange County. The other difference is that, unlike last season, the Tritons successfully fended off the Wolverines’ rabid second-half attack to claim their second straight shut out, 1-0,  and pull even with Aliso Niguel atop the SCL table.

The win, which gives both sides of this quick-developing SCL rivalry identical league records at 6-2-1, came courtesy of the game’s only goal by senior Andy Martinez — undeniably one of So Cal’s deadliest strikers —  and a stout Triton defense anchored by 6-foot-3 keeper Andrew Cuchessi. 

Cuchessi, the pride of the Trestles ‘hood, is quoted in the Orange County Register’s coverage.  Here’s an excerpt describing the crucial closing minutes:

San Clemente held a one goal advantage in last year’s league finale and as the minutes ticked away in the second half, Tuesday’s contest developed a similar feeling. The Wolverines’ attack had picked up, forcing San Clemente and goalie Andrew Cuchessi to defend with whatever it took.
Cuchessi made a leaping save early in the second half, deflecting a shot over the crossbar and saving a goal. But the test was only beginning.
The Wolverines earned a throw in deep in San Clemente territory four minutes later. Cuchessi came out on the throw, but the ball came free. He fell down scrambling back to the goal, leaving Aliso a prime chance.
The shot was deflected, however, and on the rebound, Cuchessi dove to deflect another try. Another shot at point blank range came off that rebound, but two Tritons slid at the goal line and deflected the shot away, where it was finally cleared.
“I don’t even know what happened,” Cuchessi said. “I came out to deflect it and then got tripped going back to the goal. It came back in, but we got it out.
A minute later Aliso had a corner kick, and again the Tritons thwarted a golden look. Off the kick, Aliso shot near post, but Zack Miller headed the ball out, saving the goal and preserving the lead.
Aliso kept the pressure up, getting three more corner kicks and two free kicks close to the box the rest of the way. All were turned back.
“We kept our heads in the game,” Cuchessi said. “We played the whole game. We just kept playing. The whole team played excellent.”

Both teams have one remaining league game to either claim the league outright, share it, or give it away. Then it’s off to CIF.


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