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The Day After: Uncertainty reigns

With two games left, multiple teams are vying for titles

Posted: February 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 3, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Valencia's Colton Morgan, left, and Canyon's Bonifacio Rojas vie for possession on Friday at Valencia High. The Vikings stayed one point back of first with a 4-0 win.

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With two games left, there is only one certainty in the Foothill League.

The Valencia girls soccer team clinched at least a share of its first league title since 2009 with a dominant 7-2 victory over Canyon.

Outside of the Vikings, though, the Foothill League is a two-horse race.

It’s West Ranch and Hart in boys basketball, West Ranch and Valencia in boys soccer, and Valencia and Canyon in girls basketball.

With just two games remaining for each team, it’s officially crunch time.

Here’s a look at how the league fared on Friday.

Boys Soccer

With one week left, Valencia and West Ranch continue to be neck and neck.

The Vikings easily took care of an undermanned Canyon squad on Friday, 4-0, to stay one point behind the Wildcats for first in the Foothill League.

West Ranch kept pace with a 1-0 victory over Saugus behind a goal from Zack Sage off an assist from Justice Rodrigues.

The Wildcats play fifth-place Golden Valley on Tuesday before finishing the season with a much anticipated matchup against Valencia at home.

The Vikings, though, face a tough test before their season finale.

Valencia will face a third-place Hart team looking to clinch an automatic CIF-Southern Section Division IV playoff spot.

Hart, a team that held league title hopes entering the season, has struggled as of late. The Indians have failed to score in two straight 1-0 losses to West Ranch and Saugus.

They turned that around on Friday, scoring four goals in a 4-0 victory over Golden Valley.

Oscar Ocampo opened things up with a goal in just the third minute to put Hart ahead for good. Harrison Sidell put one home just two minutes later, and Brayon Rodriguez and David White added the last two goals.

“We’ve been working a lot on finishing and we’ve been working a lot of finishing with forwards, finish with outside mids and a lot of things,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel.

The Indians now turn to their game against Valencia, where a win, combined with a West Ranch win, would knock the Vikings out of title contention.

A win on either Tuesday at Valencia or Thursday at home against last-place Canyon would clinch a playoff spot for the Hart.

“I think we’re going to be spoilers this year,” Jovel said.

Girls Soccer

While Valencia was making quick work of Canyon to secure a share of the Foothill League title, the rest of the league saw some surprising results.

West Ranch added to Saugus’ Foothill League woes, upsetting the Centurions 2-0 on Friday night and keeping alive its slim hopes at a CIF-Southern Section Division II playoff spot.

The win was the Wildcats’ first league victory of the season, and just the third game in which they’ve scored more than one goal this season.

West Ranch needs to finish with a .500 overall record or better, and currently sit at 6-6-5 with two games left, to make the playoffs. It would also need to finish in the top four in league, and currently sits one game behind Saugus for fourth.

Things aren’t ideal — the Wildcats host Golden Valley on Tuesday before finishing at Valencia on Thursday. Saugus hosts Canyon on Tuesday before traveling to Golden Valley on Thursday.

“We let a lot of things slip away in the first five games,” said West Ranch head coach Jared White. “We’re in a tough position with two games left. We’re asking a lot of other people. But we’ll take a slim chance and whatever happens, happens. If it’s in the stars, it’s in the stars.”

On Friday, West Ranch got on the board first, scoring on a header from Lizet Pacheco off a throw-in into the box from Taylor Ayers to put the Wildcats up 1-0.

Saugus pushed up looking for the equalizer, but it was West Ranch that put one in the back of the net, taking a 2-0 lead on a goal by Ashley Goodin.

“Whenever you’re trying to build a successful program, you always have to have those key signature wins to get you started off in the right direction,” White said. “Last year was Sacred Heart and this year we hadn’t really had one. It’s a little late to have your first win seven games into league, but for the returning players and the players on JV and frosh, they look at that and see progress.”

Hart pulled back into a second-place tie with Canyon on Friday, defeating Golden Valley 2-1.

The win keeps the Indians’ slim league-title hopes alive.

They trail Valencia by six points with two games to play. Hart can help its cause on Tuesday when it hosts a Valencia team it tied 1-1 on Jan. 18.

The Indians close the season with a Canyon team that sits in the exact same position, while both teams would need Valencia to lose in its season finale against West Ranch on Thursday to share the league title with the Vikings. Canyon travels to Saugus on Tuesday.

Boys Basketball

Canyon picked up its first signature win of the league season on Friday, in an upset of third-place Valencia.

The victory keeps Canyon’s hopes of a playoff birth alive, and took the Vikings out of contention for a Foothill League title.

Canyon now sits in fourth place at 3-5 in league, 13-11 overall.

Elsewhere, Hart needed a huge fourth quarter to handle Golden Valley.

The Grizzlies led at halftime, but were outscored w46-18 in the second half as Hart won 75-50.

Myles Franklin, who scored 13 points for the Indians, left the game in the third quarter after reinjuring his tailbone.

The victory kept Hart at 7-1 in Foothill League play, tied for first with a West Ranch team that also had to come back on Friday.

The Wildcats once again showed it’s not how you start, but how you finish.

Saugus led for the entire first half and much of the third quarter before West Ranch turned it on.

But Ako kaluna’s 20 points and 11 rebounds and guard Kevin Harris’ 17 points helped push West Ranch over the top in a 58-47 win.

“It’s the confidence in our guys, the confidence in our defense,” said West Ranch head coach Shant Bicakci. “I thought we did a great job defensively, and that’s where it starts.”

Girls Basketball

Valencia had a shot to all-but clinch the Foothill League title when it faced Canyon on Friday.

Instead, it was the Cowboys coming out with the 52-45 victory on Friday to pull into a first-place tie with the Vikings with two games to play.

Canyon fell behind early, trailing 21-12 after the first quarter, but outscored the Vikings 10-3 in the second to get back in the game.

Alia McCoy led the Cowboys’ attack with 18 points, while Jaya Schultz scored 12.

With two games remaining, one slip-up could cost either team a shot at a league title. The Vikings play Hart on Tuesday, and West Ranch on Friday. The Cowboys host Saugus on Tuesday before traveling to Hart on Friday.

For West Ranch, there’s more at stake than just playing spoiler to Valencia.

The Wildcats 55-31 victory over Saugus on Friday put them into a tie for third place, helping their potential playoff seeding in CIF-SS Division IAA.

“We knew it was important,” said West Ranch head coach Randy Smith. “We’re trying to get as high a seed as possible for the playoffs and we had talked most of the week about how we needed to come out be very aggressive and rebound better than we did last time.”

Now the Wildcats have to focus on Golden Valley, before facing the Vikings.

“I’ve been looking over the Golden Valley tape all day and it was a very even game for our three quarters when we played them (on Jan. 18 in a 65-50 win) and we lost to them last year at their place,” Smith said. “So we know we can’t let up a bit, otherwise we could lose.”

Hart came away with its second Foothill League win, both over Golden Valley, when it defeated the Grizzlies 71-58 on Friday. Breze Kimble led the way, scoring 25 points and pulling down 14 rebounds with four blocks and six steals.

The Indians have a tough week ahead to close out the season, facing Valencia on the road Tuesday before hosting Canyon on Friday.

Signal Staff Writer Dan Agnew contributed to this story.

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