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Foothill League boys soccer: Vikes delay the party

Valencia ties Hart, setting up two big Thursday matches

Posted: February 8, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 8, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Hart’s Jordan Karroll (17) collides with Valencia’s Garrett McPheeters, center, and Jake Veiga on Tuesday at Hart High.

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The ball went off crossbars, over the top and just off to the side of the goal.

It went everywhere but the back of the net in the second half, meaning Foothill League-leading Hart boys soccer had to settle for a 1-1 tie with Valencia on Tuesday at Hart High.

Despite an aggressive strategy down the stretch that saw several scoring chances come and go for the Indians, fourth-place Valencia held strong on the backline and happily picked up a point for the draw.

“This tie for us is an absolute win,” said Valencia head coach Tony Scalercio. “Hart’s a good team. They were my pick to win league.”

And while Hart (15-2-2, 6-1-2) remains in first place, it will need at least a tie in Thursday’s league finale against Canyon to clinch the Foothill crown.

A win on Tuesday could have clinched at least a share of the title.

“We had this game already,” said Hart senior Sammy Reyes, who scored Hart’s only goal in the first half. “We should have just put this one away.”

Reyes knocked home a penalty kick in the 18th minute after he was tripped while advancing the ball on a corner kick.

It took just three minutes for Valencia (9-5-3, 4-3-2) to respond when Jesus Fernandez took control from midfield, dribbled the ball and quickly fired a shot from 25 yards out just inside the right post.

With 19 minutes to play in the first half, the final score was already set at 1-1.

While the Vikings were content with their usual defensive style, waiting for opportunities to counter attack, the Indians continued to dial up offensive pressure as the game went on.

Hart finished with nine shots on goal compared to Valencia’s two.

“We missed a lot of chances,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel. “When you miss that many shots, you can’t win games.”

While Hart continued to feed Reyes and fellow forward Nico Ferrero toward the middle, Valencia’s Michael Fischbach, Austin Rivas, Erik Juico and Jake Veiga cleared the ball out of harm’s way time and time again.

“We just had to stay back and keep it in front of us,” said another key Vikings defender, Garrett McPheeters. “We knew we had to control their forwards because they have some really fast (players).”

The closest call came in the 49th minute when Edwin Medina passed the ball to Reyes, who then had a clean look at the goal straight away from 22 yards out.

He nailed the ball off the left crossbar. Valencia lived to play another day.

“The object coming into this game was to get into the playoffs, and to do that, we needed to come out with a result,” Scalercio said.

The Vikings remain one point behind West Ranch for third place after the Wildcats tied Saugus 0-0 on Tuesday.

Since the top three teams get an automatic CIF-Southern Section Division III playoff berth, Thursday’s game between Valencia and West Ranch will be a battle for the league’s last automatic bid.

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