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Hart soccer turns the tide

Posted: February 13, 2014 11:04 p.m.
Updated: February 13, 2014 11:04 p.m.

Hart players celebrate after scoring the game-winning goal against Canyon on Thursday at Hart High School.

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If there’s a team that knows a lot about fortunes changing quickly, it’s Hart girls soccer.

So it makes sense that every time hope looked lost for the Hart Indians, they buckled down and put together their best soccer at the most opportune time.

On Thursday at Hart High, a last-minute goal by Sarah Lindborg not only gave Hart a 2-1 win over the Canyon Cowboys, but it made the Indians the 2014 outright Foothill League champions.

“I can’t even explain how I feel right now,” Lindborg said of the championship, which is Hart’s first since 2007.

And in fitting fashion, Hart had to come back from a 1-0 deficit at halftime.

“I think we couldn’t write a better script,” said first-year Hart head coach Guilherme Mitrovitch. “We came back five times this season, and one more time we had to come from behind today.”

This time last week, Hart (14-5-4 overall, 7-0-3 Foothill League) was in third place in league behind Valencia and Canyon.

The Indians proved it was more than a two-horse race by beating the top two teams in league in back-to-back games this week.

Hart bested Valencia 1-0 on Tuesday, which set up Thursday’s winner-take-all matchup between Canyon and Hart.

After Sarah Cipperley scored on a penalty kick in the 24th minute to put the Cowboys (14-6-4, 6-2-2) up a goal, it looked like Canyon was in position to take the league crown.

But the flow of the game changed noticeably in the second half.

By the time Danielle Spickard scored with a left-footed touch shot in the 57th minute, the momentum was clearly on Hart’s side.

“We started running out of gas there in those last few minutes,” said Canyon head coach Derek Rusk, whose team was without four starters due to injuries.

The score remained tied 1-1 until near the end of stoppage time, when the ball bounced in-and-out of the hands of Canyon goalkeeper Meghan Kennedy and in front of Lindborg for the open shot.

“I couldn’t believe it was real,” Spickard said of the winning goal. “I thought the ref was going to call it off and when he didn’t and he put his arm up, I couldn’t believe it.”

It was only a few seconds after that when the final whistle blew and the Hart bench emptied onto the field in a celebratory mob.

For a Hart team that finished second place in league each of the last three seasons, this is the group that finally made it to the top of the mountain.

Hart and Canyon will find out their first-round playoff matchups on Monday with the release of the CIF-Southern Section Division II brackets.

Canyon will go into the postseason as the league’s third-place team due to the fact that Valencia finished second after a win over West Ranch on Thursday. West Ranch will have an opportunity to apply for an at-large bid.

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