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Foothill League boys soccer: Wildcats win another last-minute title

West Ranch cashes in on Canyon forfeit, wins second straight Foothill League title

Posted: February 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

It was difficult for West Ranch boys soccer head coach Fred McGinn to know how to react.

One minute, his team is playing for a possible third-place finish in the Foothill League, the next minute he’s celebrating a league championship after a 2-1 victory over Valencia on Thursday’s Foothill finale at Valencia High School.

At the very least, the sudden turn in events warranted a tip of the cap to his players, who had just secured the program’s second straight league title in dramatic fashion.

“I’m dumbfounded,” McGinn said. “I’m absolutely dumbfounded. Every one of them on that field tonight put everything in. They won every ball.”

With less than five minutes to play and the score knotted up at 1-1, all the effort paid off when senior Brandon Dooley took a pass from Brett Karson and angled the ball from the right side and slid it across the goal and tucked it inside the left post.
Dooley’s game-winner finished off a day full of fortune changes around the league.

The Wildcats entered the day in third place and out of contention to win league.

Earlier in the day, Canyon announced it had played an ineligible athlete during last week’s 1-0 win over West Ranch.
As a result, Canyon has to forfeit it’s three points from the win and give them to West Ranch.

When it all shook out, the Wildcats were back in position for the Foothill crown, but they needed to beat Valencia on Thursday to claim it.

The team didn’t even find out until halftime.

“You can’t get any more of a motivating factor than playing to win league,” McGinn said.

In the end, West Ranch ended up with an 11-3-4 overall record and a 6-1-3 finish in league play, which is one point ahead of second-place Hart.

Hart players and coaches showed up to watch the second half of the game, and for the second straight year, the Indians fell a single point short of a league title.

“It’s been our dream to win league twice in a row and coming into this game, we had given up on that,” said Dooley, who was mauled by a crowd of teammates after his goal.

Dooley tore off his jersey immediately after the score, earning himself a yellow card.

“Well worth it,” Dooley said.

His goal came after a complete barrage of attacks by West Ranch’s offense in the final 20 minutes.

The Wildcats were winning the majority of the possession at midfield and had several breakaways that resulted in seven shots-on-goal in the second half alone, 12 in the entire game.

Despite a valiant effort and nine impressive saves by Valencia goalkeeper Gino Ferraro in the game, the Vikings (9-6-3, 4-4-2) couldn’t quite hold off the offensive rally.

Valencia finished fourth in league and will have to wait to find out if it will earn an at-large bid into the CIF-Southern Section Division III playoffs.

“We were not sitting on a tie,” said Valencia head coach Tony Scalercio. “If we were going to lose the game, we were going to go out trying to score.”

That they did.

The Vikings continued to lob balls into the attacking zone and they had several headers and close calls on West Ranch’s goal.

Forwards Jesus Fernandez and Marc Silingardi were usually the ones with the best opportunities, and fittingly, both were involved in Valencia’s only score of the game.

In the 16th minute of the first half, Fernandez collided with Wildcats goalkeeper Alex Manzo while trying to fight for possession on the left side.

With Manzo occupied and the goal uncovered, the ball trickled in front of Silingardi, who tapped it in for the easy goal, tying it at 1-1.

“I can’t help but be proud of the boys for that,” Scalercio said of the effort. “It can’t always be about winning and losing. Sometimes it’s got to be about effort.”

Valencia’s equalizer came just two minutes after Connor Ashlock got West Ranch on the board when he headed in a powerful cross from Wade McMillon.

Now the Wildcats have a few days to celebrate back-to-back titles before playoffs begin next week.

“It shows that last year wasn’t just a fluke,” Dooley said. “This year, it’s not just that we lose kids, but we have a program that can continue winning.”

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