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Lompoc came in to Monday night's game at Santa Maria with a 9-0 record in Los Padres League games.

The Braves left Ralph Baldiviez Stadium with a 9-1 LPL record and an 8-1 loss. 

Santa Maria's midfield and back line dominated the possession game and the Saints' attack played with an edge. That combination resulted in one of the most dominant performances of the Los Padres League season, making the league's title chase that much more interesting.

The Saints moved to 7-1-2 in LPL boys soccer games and are 12-5-3 overall. Lompoc falls to 12-5-2.

Santa Maria coach Eduardo Cuna wasn't surprised at his team's scoring outburst on senior night. He felt it was just a matter of time.

"We finally started executing today," Cuna said. "It's really deep into the season and I knew eventually it was going to happen. I just don't know why it took so long. It was just a matter of them meshing together. We practice penetration, crosses, shots on goal and I knew they were going to fall for us. Hopefully we can keep it going from now on."

Cuna felt Marino Corona's play was critical for the Saints. The senior captain scored once, but had a hand in several other scores with assists or winning the ball in the midfield.

"Marino is always one of my catalysts in the middle," Cuna said. "He was able to hold on, stay strong in the middle and he was the play-maker for the most part. There are a couple sophomores in there playing with him and he directs them pretty well. He makes them stronger in the middle. I even had him playing center-back and he responded pretty well."

Corona said it felt good to be a part of Santa Maria's productive offensive attack.

"Everyone knows what to do and everyone knows their roles," Corona said of the team's mentality when they have momentum on the pitch. "Everyone tries to make the team look good. It felt good out there."

Lompoc coach Marco Vargas gave the Saints credit for the performance and noted that they had more energy than his Braves on Santa Maria's senior night.

"It's their senior night. They're coming in super pumped," Vargas said. "Their seniors get their last opportunity to play us. So they had momentum coming into the game with that. For us, we came off a little flat. Give credit to Santa Maria's seniors; they played their (tails) off tonight. We've been playing a little on the edge the last couple games. We'll take it as a humble loss and we'll be waiting to bounce back against Cabrillo on Wednesday."

Santa Maria started the scoring with an early goal from Saul Salcido, set up with a well-placed through ball from Johnathan Santos in the fourth minute. 

The Braves, though, answered with a goal in the 25th minute by Jovanny Limas. The goal came after a deep free kick went into the box and bounced around before Limas sent a crisp header into the net.

The Saints would then score the game's next seven goals. 

Jose Orozco tallied in the 33rd minute to put the Saints up 2-1. Lalo Rodrigues set up that goal with a low cross right to Orozco's strong foot, which Orozco rifled into the net.

Juan Zacarias extended the Saints' lead to 3-1 in the 36th minute, scoring after Lompoc couldn't clear a corner. The ball came to Zacarias on the right side and Zacarias sent a right-footed shot past Lompoc goalie Ricky Garay.

The Saints led 3-1 at the break.

Sophomore Clemente Tapia scored the first goal of the second half in the 42nd minute. Tapia stole the ball from a Lompoc center-back to break free on goal and boot a shot past Garay.

The Saints were held scoreless for about 27 minutes, then scored four goals in a span of 10 minutes.

In the 69th, Santos led a hard-charging Santa Maria attack and was rewarded with a goal to make it 5-1. A minute later Marco Ayala got a goal off a corner, after another failed attempt by Lompoc to clear the ball out of the box. 

Erick Romero, in the 76th minute, and Carona, in the 79th minute, added breakaway goals to score the final two goals for the Saints.

Lompoc has to regroup rather quickly. The Braves will host Cabrillo Wednesday night in a league rivalry tilt. The Conquistadores are coming off a 2-0 win over Santa Ynez, which was in the league title mix heading into Monday night's action.

Santa Maria hosts Templeton Wednesday night. Lompoc is still in first place in the LPL with 28 league points. Santa Maria is now second with Santa Ynez, both at 7-1-2. Cabrillo has a tight grip on the fourth and final guaranteed playoff spot at 5-4-1. 

Templeton and Morro Bay were both 3-6 heading into LPL play Monday night.

For the second week in a row, LPL teams will play three games this week. Santa Maria will host Morro Bay on Friday night while Lompoc will play on the road against Orcutt Academy.

Nipomo 3, Orcutt Academy 2 (Overtime)

The Titans (3-16-0, 2-8-0), edged the Spartans (4-11-2, 1-9-0) in a Los Padres League game at Nipomo.

Kaden Bennett scored the Orcutt goals on free kicks. 

Pioneer Valley 4, Paso Robles 2

The Panthers (14-5-2, 6-3-1) moved into a third-place tie with the Bearcats (12-4-6, 6-3-1) with a PAC 8 League win at Pioneer Valley.

Righetti (6-4-0) slipped into fifth place with a 5-0 loss at second-place San Luis Obispo. Pioneer Valley needs at least a fourth-place finish at the end of the regular season to get a guaranteed playoff spot. The Panthers have four league games left.

Rigoberto Maldonado scored two goals and had an assist for the Panthers, who scored four unanswered goals after trailing 1-0 at halftime.

Jesse Morales and Sebastian Melchor had a goal apiece for the Panthers. Josue Chavez had two assists and David Mora had one.    

Cabrillo 2, Santa Ynez 0

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The Conquistadores defeated the Pirates in a Los Padres League game at Santa Ynez. No details were available.

Girls soccer

St. Joseph 1, Arroyo Grande 0

St. Joseph's girls soccer team started its 2018 PAC 8 League campaign by going 0-4.

Things improved for the Knights in their next few games, but at the halfway point in the league campaign they were 2-5.

Things have changed a lot since then for the Knights — for the better. St. Joseph nipped second-place Arroyo Grande at the Knights' Jay Will Stadium for their third straight win.

The Knights (8-7-1, 5-4-0) solidified their spot in fifth place, just behind fourth-place Paso Robles (6-3-1, PAC 8).  

Corby Burress scored the lone goal of the Arroyo Grande-St. Jospeh game. St. Joseph goalkeeper Analea Pua made 12 saves.

The top four league teams at the end of the regular season will be guaranteed playoff spots. St. Joseph will play a PAC 8 game at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Atascadero.       

Santa Ynez 2, Cabrillo 0

The Pirates' defense still hasn't allowed a goal in the 2018 Los Padres League campaign, and Santa Ynez moved to 13-1-0, 10-0-0 with a win at Cabrillo.

Aile Urive scored on a corner kick in the first half, and Sarah Johnson, with a Julia Pritchard assist, tallied in the 62nd minute.

Santa Ynez goalkeeper Breanna Rodrigues made two saves.

The Pirates became the first area winter season sports team to clinch a playoff spot when they defeated Morro Bay 5-0 Friday.

Paso Robles 3, Pioneer Valley 1

Ivanna Gonzales scored the lone goal for the Panthers (3-15-2, 3-6-1), who lost a PAC 8 League game at Paso Robles (11-5-3, 6-3-1).

Pioneer Valley goalkeeper Sara Rodriguez made four saves.

Lompoc 4, Santa Maria 1

Ayziah Simmons, Marina Tamayo, Bri Gaona and Selina Garcia all tallied for the Braves, who ran their record to 9-4-2, 8-2-1 with a Los Padres League win at home over the Saints ((4-10-1, 2-7-1).

The Braves have clinched a playoff spot.  

Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at jbailey@leecentralcoastnews.com or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jbaileysmsports

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