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Foothill Boys Soccer: Believe the hype

Canyon blanks Valencia in tense clash of Foothill League’s elite

Posted: February 1, 2010 10:14 p.m.
Updated: February 2, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Canyon's David Castaneda (22) takes the ball away from Valencia's Renato Sanchez Monday evening at Canyon High School. The Cowboys won 1-0.

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As good as advertised.

In likely the first-ever meeting between two 5-0 Foothill League boys soccer teams, Canyon, thanks to a second-half goal by Mohammed Roknipour, defeated Valencia 1-0 Monday night at Canyon High.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” said Canyon head coach Khris Savage. “Two defensive coaches looking for a 1-0 game. It’s what we expected.”

But that goal was practically a flare compared to the early fireworks.

In the game’s 27th minute, Valencia’s Renato Sanchez got tangled up with Canyon’s David Castaneda, both battling for the ball.

After the ball squeezed loose from them, Castaneda got in Sanchez’s face and headbutted him.

Sanchez collapsed to the ground.

Neither referee saw it.

Valencia head coach Tony Scalercio did, claiming that his player was punched.

Play continued, but Scalercio ran to his player’s aid on the others side of the field.

The coach pleaded with the referees to do something about it, yet they didn’t, saying they didn’t see what had happened.

A seven-minute delay ensued.

“I don’t think that affected the game that much, but it’s unfortunate when you have physical violence in a sporting event,” Scalercio said. “Canyon’s a great team. They didn’t need to do that.”

Savage said he didn’t see the play.

The game’s physicality calmed down.

Canyon’s pace didn’t.

The Cowboys (14-2-1, 6-0-0) controlled the game on the offensive side, yet both sides couldn’t manage any scoring in the first half.

Canyon had the best opportunity.

Valencia was whistled for a hand ball in the 12th minute, giving the Cowboys a penalty kick.

Roknipour took it but rolled it left, past the net.

“I’ve had coaches throughout my career who have told me, ‘Forget it,’” Roknipour said. “I let it go and kept doing my job.”

His reward came in the 52nd minute.

Roknipour received a pass 15 yards from the net.

He tapped it into the right side of the net, past a diving Alex McIntyre for a 1-0 Canyon lead.

It would hold up.

Yet Valencia (8-5-2, 5-1-0) had its chances.

Viking Chase Irwin received a pass in traffic inside the goal box in the game’s 75th minute, but he rushed the shot, kicking it with his thigh over the net.

“I am more proud of them the way they played today than all the five (wins) put together,” Scalercio said.

Valencia has been using confidence as its fuel during the first half of league play, each win building more.

Canyon has been using talent and size.

That combination helped the Cowboys overcome the Vikings Monday.

But Roknipour credited something else.

“Our defense — they are the factor,” he said. “Vinny (Vincent Donato), Erick (Corona), Carlos (Barragan), Jose (Chavarria) and Andrew (Wilson).”

This game was originally scheduled for Jan. 22, but was postponed due to rain.

The rematch is Feb. 9 at Valencia High.

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