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Foothill soccer coming to home stretch

Plenty of teams still alive in both boys and girls

Posted: February 6, 2014 9:58 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2014 9:58 p.m.

Hart's Jose Pena, center, and Riley Waldeck, right, try to gain possession against West Ranch on Jan. 14 at West Ranch High School. Hart could clinch a league title today.

Winning a Foothill League soccer championship requires a lot of things, including the ability to get the job done when needed, and on Tuesday many teams showed that they have what it takes to get that job done.

At least that was the case for the girls side.

Wins by Valencia, Canyon and Hart have turned the Foothill race into a three-way sprint to the finish.

Right now, the team with the quickest path to the finish line is league-leader Valencia (17-1-2 overall, 6-0-1 Foothill League).

The Vikings started off the week about as well as they possibly could have, blowing out Golden Valley 8-1 in a game where six different players scored.

It was just another day at the office for Vikings senior midfielder Rebecca Harrison, who scored two goals and notched an assist in the win.

Across the last four games, Harrison has scored five times and assisted on four other scores.

It’s an impressive stretch of games, but it’s not exactly unparalleled.

Canyon’s Mari Kneisel is in the midst of her own impressive run through league play, scoring six times and assisting on four other goals through the first seven league contests. She scored Canyon’s lone goal in its 1-0 win over West Ranch on Tuesday.

A Canyon (13-5-3, 5-1-1) triumph over Valencia on Friday would put the teams in a deadlock for first place. Valencia won the first matchup 2-1.

“That deciding factor will be which keeper comes up with the big save, (Canyon’s) Megan Kennedy or (Valencia’s) Nicole Spencer,” said West Ranch head coach Jared White.

The only scenario in which the Cowboys or Vikings don’t win league is if the Hart Indians (11-5-4, 4-0-3) play spoiler.

Hart beat Saugus 4-1 on Tuesday in a game it needed to have, and while the Indians don’t have a league loss their three draws have them playing catch up. The good news for the Indians is that they are still due to face the Cowboys and Vikings, and they enter Friday’s matchup with last-place Golden Valley (8-8-2, 0-7) as a big favorite.

Lastly, Saugus (5-10-4, 1-6) and West Ranch (9-7-5, 2-4-1) will face each other in a matchup of two teams that have the ability to run with the league’s best but have been bitten with the inconsistency bug at times. The Wildcats can’t win the Foothill crown, but there are still plenty of playoff hopes for West Ranch to realize if it can close the season with some key wins.

The alpha has been easier to identify among the boys ranks, with Hart (11-4-3, 5-1-1) pulling ahead for a sizeable first-place lead.

The Indians played to a 1-1 tie with Saugus on Tuesday, but still sit five points above Valencia in the Foothill Standings. Unlike their female counterparts, the Indians’ path to a Foothill League title at this point is just holding serve and not messing up.

Hart could wrap up its first league title since 2008 if it beats Golden Valley (8-9-4, 2-3-2) today and Valencia ties or loses against Canyon.

On Tuesday, the Vikings (10-3-4, 3-2-2) needed goals from Jack Janaszek and Sean Romo in the last three minutes of the game to rally back for a 2-1 win over Golden Valley.

After a modest start to league play, the second-place Vikings are on a steady upward curve and slowly gaining on Hart. Valencia’ Friday’s contest with last-place Canyon (6-7-6, 1-3-3) is another opportunity to inch closer to Hart.

Besides the Indians and Vikings perhaps the theme of Foothill boys soccer this season has been inconsistency.

“That’s a great question I wish I knew the answer to,” said Saugus head coach Seth Groller on why teams have struggled to maintain consistent form. “You can’t really anticipate until the start, but sometimes teams just come out sluggish. When we are working hard and we bring the intensity, we have significantly better results.”

The Centurions (9-9-2, 2-3-2) have struggled to find the back of the net, scoring a league-low four goals in Foothill competition. However, that’s been somewhat neutralized by the presence of dynamic goalkeeper Noah Maynard. The Centurions face West Ranch (5-8-3, 2-3-2) on Friday in a game of monumental importance because of the fact that those teams are locked in a three-way tie for third place in league.

Then again, every game from this point on is a must-win.

Five teams still have a chance, however far-fetched, at a league title.


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