Torrey Pines’ JT Henderson looks for an opening as the Falcons advanced to the Open Division semifinals.
Some soccer teams reach their goals through the individual brilliance of one or two superstars. Others get there by forming a fist of a squad.
This year’s Torrey Pines High boys team — ranked No. 1 in the county and No. 2 in the state — falls into the latter category.
“Our team chemistry is insane,” senior Peter Copp said. “We get each other. We’re all on the same page all the time, so it’s easy to play with each other.
“We all love each other. It’s awesome playing with my boys.”
The Falcons needed that chemistry in their San Diego Section Open Division quarterfinal against visiting Carlsbad on Wednesday. Top-seeded Torrey got past the No. 8 Lancers 4-1 in penalty kicks after the teams played to a scoreless draw through regulation and one 15-minute overtime period.
Greg Matus, Copp, Reagan Sherlock and Jordan Karam converted from the spot for Torrey, and senior keeper Jack Sampiere stopped two PKs to send the Falcons (22-1-3) through to the semifinals, where they will host fourth-seeded Cathedral Catholic on Wednesday.
“Two amazing saves,” Matus said. “You can’t ask for more out of a keeper. He’s just big, strong, a great keeper. Awesome job. He won us those PKs, for sure.”
Falcons coach Andy Hargreaves likes his teams to play a possession-oriented attacking style. To do that, they have to be solid in back, which the 2015-16 edition of the Falcons is.
Two seasons ago, Hargreaves kept two of his defenders on the JV team so they could build chemistry together, and the move is now paying dividends.
With four senior defenders and Sampiere in goal, Torrey has given up less than a goal per game.
“If you don’t give up a goal, you can’t lose,” Hargreaves said. “(The defense) affords us the ability to play our game.”
With a sturdy back line, the Falcons have been able to attack with numbers.
Matus pulls the strings in central midfield, and Torrey has gotten scoring from a number of sources while averaging more than 21/2 goals per game.
“We have midfielders who can score, and we’ve had success on set pieces,” Hargreaves said.
The Falcons have won five section titles, but the last was in 2012. Since then, they fell in the Open Division final the last two seasons — to Carlsbad in 2014 and Cathedral Catholic in 2015.
Having beaten the Lancers (12-7-4) to avenge the first defeat, the Falcons are looking forward to the opportunity to avenge the second.
“We want Cathedral,” said Matus, a senior who played in those two title games. “We want that rematch. Nothing would make us happier than to beat Cathedral in the next game.”
Hargreaves said those defeats have spurred on this year’s squad.
“For the guys who have been here three years, that’s a huge motivation,” Hargreaves said. “They don’t want to see (the season) end in anything other than a CIF championship and maybe a state championship.”
“For me, these guys deserve it, and I want them to have it.”