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Back Up on Top: Le Grand wins Southern League with reserve goalie

DELHI -- In the midst of its Southern League title celebration on Monday evening, the Le Grand soccer team took a moment to surround and embrace Mario Moreno.

The freshman was forced to enter a 1-1 game cold when starting goalkeeper Jorge Ayala suffered an ankle injury in the 23rd minute.

Couple that with the fact that the field was wet, the ball slick, an SL title was up for grabs and Moreno had only seen a few minute of mop-up time over the course of the season, and well...

Let's just say Moreno had earned the moment.

"I'm the one who warmed up (Ayala), so I didn't practice goalie at all," Moreno said. "I was pretty nervous when I got in there.

"It was better after I got that first save."

Moreno made five saves and provided a calming presence at the back as Le Grand rallied for a 4-1 victory and the SL crown.

"We'd brought (Moreno) up from JV to be the backup," Le Grand coach Frank Ferreira said. "I was a little nervous when he went in, but then he got on a roll.

"I'm was really impressed with his performance, especially in those circumstances."

Albert Cuevas helped take some of the pressure off of Moreno's shoulders, putting Le Grand (11-2-1 SL, 11-4-1) back in front when he flicked Martin Cueto's free kick over Delhi goalkeeper Efrain Calderon in the 31st minute.

Antonio Rodriguez helped ice it for Le Grand with a brilliant run and finish down the left wing in the 51st minute.

"The last time we played here, we went up two goals early and then played kind of timid the rest of the way," Ferreira said. "This time we played physical with them the whole time.

"I was very pleased."

David Granados put the game permanently out of reach, catching Calderon off of his line in the 75th minute, and Luis Lopez got the scoring started for Le Grand just four minutes into the game.

At Delhi

LE GRAND -- Goals: Luis Lopez, Albert Cuevas, Antonio Rodriguez, David Granados; Assists: Martin Cueto, Elias Leon; Saves: Jorge Ayala 2, Mario Moreno 5.

DELHI -- Golas: Edgar Snachez; Assists: Carlos Rodriguez; Saves: Efrain Calderon 5.

Halftime: Le Grand 2-1

Records: Le Grand 11-2-1 SL, 11-4-1; Delhi 9-3-2 SL, 10-5-2.