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Prep soccer: The best on display

Indians take out league rival Valencia for Showcase title

Posted: December 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Valencia's Colton Morgan, left, and Hart's David White, right, battle for the ball on Saturday at Hart High School.

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In two days, Hart boys soccer beat two Foothill League opponents, and it has now won two straight Hart Soccer Showcase championships over the last two seasons.

Not a bad way to head into league play, which begins Jan. 8.

Senior David Knopf scored on a freekick from 65 yards out in the first half and the Indians held off Valencia for a 1-0 win on Saturday morning in the Showcase final at Hart High School.

It came one day after Hart’s 4-0 defeat of Canyon on Friday in the same tournament.

“It doesn’t count yet,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel of beating two league opponents in a row. “It’s too early to say anything yet. It’s going to come down to how focused we are for 10 (league) games. It isn’t about who’s focused in the last two games.”

Though these games don’t officially count for league records, Hart (8-1-1) has undoubtedly established itself as a top contender.

The Indians, who are ranked fifth in CIF-Southern Section Division IV, were in an almost identical situation last year after beating Knight High of Palmdale in the Showcase final to improve to 8-1 headed into league play.

Valencia (8-4-1) also put up a strong showing this week, beating defending Golden League champion Knight on Friday and tying with CIF-SS Div. III No. 1-ranked Crescenta Valley on Thursday in pool play.

The Vikings also had plenty of promising shots to get back into Saturday’s final.

“We battled back and forth and we came up short,” said Valencia head coach Tony Scalercio. “But we created enough chances.”

Valencia’s only slip-up came in the 16th minute when Knopf launched a freekick from beyond midfield toward Vikings goalkeeper Gino Ferraro.

The ball bounced right in front of Ferraro and skipped over his head into the net.

“At first, I wanted to try to (send) it in (the 18-yard box),” Knopf said of the kick. “I think at the last second, I thought, ‘Why not?’ It was one of those ‘why not’ moments.”

Valencia responded quickly by forcing the ball into Hart’s half of the field and creating multiple corner kicks and headers toward goal, particularly with forwards Jesus Fernandez and Marc Silingardi.

The Vikings had six shots in the first half, though the Indians limited them to zero shots in the final 40 minutes of the game.

“Possession. It’s just possession,” Knopf said of how Hart held off an aggressive Valencia team. “That’s the key. Our coach said, ‘The problem isn’t going to be scoring, it’s going to be keeping possession.”

And thanks to an impressive effort by Knopf and fellow defenders Jonathan Rose and Jose Pena, Hart shut down its league rival in the second half.

The Indians wrap up their preleague season on Thursday against La Canada, while Valencia won’t play again until its Foothill opener against Saugus on Jan. 8.

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