With all the pressure of being the top-seeded team in the division, San Clemente went into the Southern Section Boys' Soccer Semifinals on Tuesday needing to do what it has done all year.
And the Tritons did that, beating JSerra, 3-2, to advance to the championship game for the second time in three seasons.
San Clemente won the 2011 title with a 2-1 victory over Santa Barbara. This go-round, the Tritons will have to beat Servite, which advanced to the finals for the first time since 1982. The Friars defeated second-seeded Los Angeles Loyola, 1-0, on a goal with 20 seconds remaining.
The time and location of the title game will be released by the Southern Section office on Wednesday.
In advancing to the title game, San Clemente outlasted JSerra, which had won the 2010 championship and had beaten fourth-seeded Palos Verdes in the semifinals.
It's the 12th consecutive victory for San Clemente (29-2-1), which has now won 19 of its last 20.
For JSerra (18-4-3), it's the Lions' only loss to a team other than Santa Margarita Catholic since Dec. 15, a span of 17 games in which they were 14-2-1.
San Clemente opened a 2-0 lead in the first half on a couple of goals that almost back-to-back. Bryce Kominski gave the Tritons a 1-0 lead and less than five minutes later, Colin McDermott made it 2-0.
JSerra cut the deficit in half on the first of Alex Duarte's two goals midway through the half.
But if JSerra was looking to win, it suffered a setback in the 63rd minute—with 17 minutes left in the match—when San Clemente's Oscar Hernandez punched in a goal past keeper Gerardo Berber for 3-1 advantage.
For JSerra and Duarte, who would add a goal, that was too much to overcome against the Tritons and goalkeeper Dylan DiGiacomo.
Tuesday Playoff Scoreboard
Division 1 semifinals
(1) San Clemente 3, JSerra 2
Servite 1, (2) L.A. Loyola 0