Paced by No. 1-all-season Loyola, Catholic school teams — including eight league champions — are poised to do well in the CIF-Southern Section boys’ soccer playoffs that begin this week.

The Cubs are top-seeded in Division 1, but will be challenged by, among others, longtime rival Cathedral, Servite, Santa Margarita, Mater Dei, J.Serra and Notre Dame/Sherman Oaks, all part of the 30-team D-1 field. As the top two seeds and champions of their respective leagues, Loyola (23-1-2, Mission No. 1) and Cathedral (18-2-2, Del Rey No. 1) drew first-round byes and won’t play until Round 2 on Feb. 9.

Other D-1 teams start play Feb. 7 with first-round matches: Servite (13-2-7, Trinity No. 1) hosting Millikan (15-4-7); Mater Dei (14-1-1, Trinity No. 2) hosting Capistrano Valley (10-8-3); J.Serra (9-8-1, Trinity No. 3) at Downey (18-4-4); Santa Margarita (7-6-7, Trinity at-large) at Edison (13-5-5); and Notre Dame (12-7-1, Mission No. 3) at Mira Costa (18-0-3).

Besides Loyola and Cathedral, Catholic school league champions competing include Servite (Trinity), Damien (Baseline), Santa Clara (Tri-Valley), Mary Star (Camino Real), Bishop Diego (Frontier) and St. Pius X-St. Matthias (Santa Fe).

Other divisional matchups include the following, with wild-card (WC) play on Feb. 5 and first-round (R1) play on Feb. 7:

  • Division 2: St. Francis (10-8-4, Mission No. 4) at Newbury Park (14-1-3), R1.
  • D-3: Salesian (10-5-4, Del Rey No. 2) hosting La Mirada (10-9-2), R1.
  • D-4: Bishop Montgomery at Torrance, WC; Damien (15-5-3, Baseline No. 1) hosting Ramona (8-5-6), R1.
  • D-5: St. Genevieve (12-6, Camino Real No. 2) at Dunn (12-4), R1.
  • D-6: Brentwood at Verbum Dei, St. Anthony at Sage Hill, both WC; Santa Clara (13-5, Tri-Valley No. 1) hosting wild card winner, and Mary Star (20-2-2, Camino Real No. 1) hosting Brentwood-Verbum Dei winner, both R1.
  • D-7: Bishop Diego (11-3, Frontier No. 1) hosting wild-card winner; St. Pius X-St. Matthias (11-5-1, Santa Fe No. 1) hosting Calvary Chapel/Downey (10-5-1); St. Michael’s Prep (10-3-2, Express No. 2) hosting Capistrano Valley Christian (5-7-3); and Serra/Gardena (5-11-1, Santa Fe No. 3) at Public Safety Academy (14-4), all R1.

No Catholic school has won a CIF-SS boys’ soccer title since Santa Clara (D-7) in 2017, although Cathedral made the D-1 final in 2018, losing 3-2 on penalty kicks.

Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News). 

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