Ten opponents had scored double digits against Xavier Prep entering the postseason last week. The Saints were the top-ranked team in Division 6, but lacked a defensive consistency to win the Desert Valley League or muster more than two-consecutive wins during the two-month stretch of the regular season.
Then the playoffs began, and that all abruptly changed. The Saints won their first two postseason games by a combined score of 40-10 while extended their season-long win streak to four games.
The streak reached five on Saturday, when Xavier Prep sent Villanova Prep packing with an 11-5 victory in the quarterfinals of the Division 6 California Interscholastic Federation tournament.
“Honestly, I don’t even pay attention to win streaks, or the scores of the games,” Xavier Prep head coach Pavel Valovic said. “But I think we are getting better.”
The Saints controlled Saturday’s game throughout. They scored the first five goals of the day, and led 8-3 at halftime. Xavier held on, allowing just a pair of second half goals behind six saves by goalkeeper Justin Wickstrand.
Troy Boydstun scored four goals to lead the Saints, Brandon Sontz and Tiernan Kelly each scored two, and Ryan Oleson, Kyle Cenicola and Kole Dempster added the other three.
The Saints (18-12) have not allowed a team to score double digits in the five wins, and have allowed just 16 total goals during the stretch.
A big reason why, Valovic said, is due to the comfort level the players have in each other. As they see the results, he noted, they are trusting each other more.
“It’s the understanding that it’s not about a single person,” the coach said. “It’s our focus on defense, and the team play that has allowed us to do what we are doing.”
That began, not coincidentally, right around the end of the regular season. Then the streak began.
Will it continue?
The Saints will find out Wednesday at a neutral site, now putting their season on the line against Chino/Alta Loma. If Xavier wins, it will play on Saturday, Nov. 19 in the CIF Division 6 championship game.
“I think as time goes, we are figuring things out and playing more as a team,” Valovic said. “We are clicking more each game, and that’s going to be important moving forward.”