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Roller hockey in playoff today

Fallbrook High School’s roller hockey team will open playoff competition today at the Escondido Sports Center.

Fallbrook, which plays at the club rather than at the CIF level, qualified for the Bronze Division playoffs of the San Diego County Roller Hockey Conference. “We’ve been running strong,” said Fallbrook coach Luke Storno. “We have some very talented players on our team.”

The players include brothers Matt and Pete Williams, who are leading the team in points. The division itself doesn’t keep statistics, so there are no official league leaders. “I’m confident that they’re leading the season,” Storno said.

Fallbrook has six players on its team. In roller hockey matches five players from each team, including the goalie, are on the rink at one time. “We’re light on the bench once again this season,” Storno said. “Six kids has put us into a tough situation.”

The team’s first loss occurred when rain forced Fallbrook’s game against Westview to be rescheduled for Jan. 30. That Saturday date conflicted with a church retreat to which some players had already committed, so Fallbrook had to forfeit due to the inability to field the minimum five players. That was Fallbrook’s first loss of the season. “That was kind of a bummer,” Storno said.

Fallbrook’s other loss was an 8-7 defeat Feb. 11 against Escondido in which Fallbrook trailed by three goals in the third period but scored three of the game’s final four goals. “Very close game,” Storno said.

The previous match between Fallbrook and Escondido wasn’t as close; Fallbrook took an 11-5 victory in the Jan. 7 game. That has been Escondido’s only loss during the season.

In 2008 Storno agreed to coach the Fallbrook team at the request of the Williams brothers, who play on the Rockets travel roller hockey team that Storno coaches, on the condition that the brothers were able to secure commitments from enough high school students to field a team. The 2008-09 team also had six players and had a 3-7 record, including three forfeits and a 3-4 record in games actually played.

This year Matt Williams is a senior. He wanted to focus on academics but decided to play roller hockey for his brother. “I’m really proud of him for stepping up to the plate,” Storno said.

Pete Williams is a sophomore. “Big brother’s handed down the torch to little brother,” Storno said.

Although Fallbrook does not have any female players this season, the league is co-ed. Emily Williams, who is in seventh grade, sits on the bench during games and plans to follow in her brothers’ footsteps when she is in high school.

Last year Fallbrook played in the Silver Division against junior varsity competition. This year the team played in the Bronze Division. “We were able to compete,” Storno said.

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