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Local teams prep for the postseason

Posted: November 9, 2008 9:26 p.m.
Updated: November 10, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Valencia's Heidi Brown (34) faces Isabelle Howell of West Ranch in a recent Foothill League contest. Both teams are expected to do well in the upcoming CIF-Southern Section playoffs beginning Tuesday.

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The brackets for the CIF-Southern Section postseason were released Sunday with one big local surprise.

It was expected that Valencia, West Ranch and Saugus would all be postseason bound, but Hart secured a surprising at-large bid.

The matches begin Tuesday, all at 7 p.m.

Valencia vs. San Luis Obispo
Foothill League champions Valencia will look to continue their dominance as they prepare to host San Luis Obispo Tuesday, the Pac-7 league's third-place team in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division I-A Playoffs.

Although the Tigers do not possess a better record, they remain a "total mystery" according to Valencia head coach Ray Sanchez, pointing out that wins and losses can be deceptive.

However, he also feels the Pac-7 has not been as strong this year as in the past.

The Vikings have relied heavily on the play of senior Shelby LeDuff, but Sanchez believes that as they spread out the offense, Valencia will be more effective and get over the hump in the playoffs.

Valencia, has seven straight league titles, but has never surpassed the quarterfinal round of the postseason.

"We have to spread out the offense and spread out the responsibilities," Sanchez said. "It makes it easier for all the kids."

Sanchez drew comparisons to a football team balancing out their offense so that they are less predictable and can better execute when the time comes.

"We have relied on LeDuff all season, so this makes it easier for her," Sanchez added. "She may not get as many sets, but they will be better quality."

The Vikings finished the season with a 19-9-0 record and head into the playoffs with increased expectations and focus.

"We don't want to look too far ahead," Sanchez said. "We want to focus on one game at a time."

West Ranch vs. Calvary Chapel
The Wildcats will host an Eagles team that is coming off three straight wins to end the season, when Calvary Chapel visits West Ranch Tuesday.

"We don't really know a lot about them except that they are in a tough league with some tough teams," said Wildcats head coach Nate Sparks.

The Eagles (16-12) finished third in the Orange Coast League behind Laguna Beach (21-8-0) and Estancia (18-7-0).

Expecting to rely on a team-effort to advance, Sparks identified two players that will bring extra motivation to the matchup - junior Alison Summers and senior Sophia Burns.

"Both were starters on our team last year," Sparks said. "They both saw how tough the playoffs can be."

West Ranch finished second in the Foothill League this season with a record of 16-11-1 and hopes to build on last year's disappointing first-round exit to Nipomo.

"Going into the season our goal was to go farther into the playoffs than we did last year," Sparks added.

Saugus at Serrano
The Centurions will be up against a tough Diamondbacks team that won its last four games on its way to a 17-8-1 record and first-place finish coming out of the Mojave River League.

However, Saugus remains optimistic about the matchup.

"I think it is one of the better draws we could have gotten," said Saugus head coach Zach Ambrose. "They are probably not one of the top 10 first-place teams."

The Centurions will travel to Serrano on Tuesday, potentially a disadvantage for most teams. For Saugus, it is just another day at the office.

"Our record on the road is very good," Ambrose said. "We've only lost one road (match), so we just want to come out and execute our game plan."

The No. 3 team coming out of the Foothill League boasts a 20-5-1 record, but injuries may end up playing a factor.

Alyssa Terwall will be a game-time decision, but is expected to play.

Hart at Marymount
The Indians will have their hands full when they travel to the Sunshine League's No. 1 team tomorrow - the Sailors recording an impressive 22-5 record.

It will take a complete effort from Hart, who advanced to the playoffs as the Foothill League's at-large team.

The Indians finished the season on a high note by defeating Saugus in their final match. Having led the team in the win, Jennie Long, Casey David, and Breena Beckett will look to keep the ball rolling into the postseason.


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