San Luis Obispo High boys soccer coach James Boscaro has the utmost confidence in his defense.
“Our mantra is: If we score once, we’re going to win the game,” he said.
The unit proved him right Friday night with a shutdown performance to lift the Tigers to a league title.
Peter Delkeskamp scored five minutes into the game, and the back line took over from there, never allowing Righetti time in the offensive zone to set up an attack en route to a 1-0 home victory in the final league game of the season.
“It feels amazing,” said senior goalkeeper Cameron Wright, who had to make two key saves late to preserve his seventh league shutout. “All of the time and effort that we put into this season; it was great that it paid off.”
San Luis Obispo (17-3-3, 10-2 PAC 7) shares the PAC 7 crown with Pioneer Valley, which defeated Atascadero 3-1 Friday to also finish 10-2 in league.
But thanks to their defense, the Tigers own the tiebreaker — most league shutouts — over the Panthers to ensure at least one CIF-Southern Section playoff game will be played in San Luis Obispo.
“We know that we are the northern-most area of the Southern Section, so if we do have to travel, it’s a long travel day,” Boscaro said. “Whoever comes to play us, hopefully they are coming from a long way away, and that’s to our advantage.”
The Tigers earned their advantage over the Warriors by converting the first scoring chance they generated.
On a free kick just inside the Righetti half of the field, junior defenseman Griffin Irving sent a long ball into the box. Delkeskamp latched onto it, and although a diving Keaton Wink saved his initial shot, the junior beat his defender to the rebound and scored.
“That really set the tone,” senior co-captain Mo Morales said. “We got a little worried at times after, but we were fine.”
All worries were handled with lockdown precision by the back line of Irving, Nic D’acri, Dane Lemons and Ben Lindal.
The Tigers allowed seven goals in 12 league games. No other PAC 7 team allowed less than 12.
“Our center defender, Ben Lindal, we missed him the first half of the year with a concussion,” Boscaro said. “When he came back, he’s been our star back there.”
San Luis Obispo went 4-8 in league last season, good for fifth place but not enough to earn a playoff spot.
When Boscaro took over the team in the offseason, he said the Tigers felt they were a squad capable of reversing that record — and then some.
“The players told me it was,” a PAC 7-championship-caliber team, the coach said. “I trusted them then, and I trust them now. And now, I believe.”
As for the playoffs?
“We can go far,” Morales said. “We can win CIF.
“We’re talented, we’re disciplined and we’re hungry.”