H.W. SLOPS OUT WIN : HARVARD-WESTLAKE 2 ST. FRANCIS 1.
In a soccer game, when a ball and a team's skills become secondary to the elements, nearly everything is up for grabs.
Any good play can be ruined by a mud puddle, any good goaltender can be rendered helpless and two evenly matched teams can alternately look like Brazil or Greenland from minute to minute.
On Friday, it was Harvard-Westlake who got the best of Mother Nature, scoring two quick goals and holding off St. Francis 2-1 in a boys' Mission League game in North Hollywood.
Sophomore striker Lerato Simelane scored two goals in the first 15 minutes for the Wolverines (8-4, 1-0), who held off a late charge by the Golden Knights (7-6, 0-2).
``He's a heck of a player,'' said Wolverines coach Josh Budde of Simelane, a tenacious South African in his first year in the United States. ``He's coming from a soccer background of get the ball and score.''
Simelane, who had been playing defense earlier in the season, scored in the 13th minute, heading home a long throw from Danny Sable after St. Francis goalkeeper Andy Ross slipped in the sticky goo around the goalbox.
Simelane's second goal came two minutes later, putting home a nifty cross-field offering from Sable.
It was a difficult spot to put the Golden Knights, who had battled perennial power Loyola in a tough 1-0 loss in their league opener Wednesday. The field conditions worsened, as did the rain, limiting chances for a comeback.
Finally, after sloshing around the midfield the majority of the second half, St. Francis broke through with nine minutes remaining. Chris Mazzone juked Wolverines goalkeeper Leo Benitez from 12 yards out, and waltzed in after the goalkeeper slipped in the mud in an attempt to recover.
In a game where rhythm and flow never existed, however, the Knights could not capitalize on the momentum and get the equalizer.
``We played so well against Loyola,'' St. Francis coach Glen Appels said, ``but in conditions like this, it's not really soccer, it's whatever you would call what you saw today.''
With a limited amount of makeup dates available, soccer coaches in the area are spooked by El Nino and are choosing to play in poor conditions.
``It's tough,'' said Budde. ``Everything stacks up at the end of the season. We're going to have to play in this sooner or later.''
Photo: Harvard-Westlake's Fred Post tries to keep St. Francis' Ryan Shaw away from the ball during the first half of a Mission League game.
Joe Binoya / Special to the Daily News
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jan 10, 1998|
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