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For all the marbles

The Day After soccer: Valencia and W.R. meet for title; girls try to position themselves for playoff

Posted: February 7, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 7, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

It all comes down to this.

With one game remaining in the Foothill League boys soccer season, the Valencia Vikings and West Ranch Wildcats remain separated by a single point.

Both teams missed an opportunity on Tuesday, with West Ranch drawing 1-1 with the Golden Valley Grizzlies and Valencia drawing 1-1 with the Hart Indians.

As a result, West Ranch enters today’s matchup with 22 points to the Vikings’ 21. The two teams play today at West Ranch at 3:15 p.m.

It’s pretty simple from here — West Ranch needs a win or a tie to win its third straight Foothill League title. Valencia wins, and the Vikings take the crown.

“The bottom line is we wanted to be able to control our own destiny and we’re in the driver’s seat,” said Valencia head coach Tony Scalercio. “Our goal was to make playoffs this season. To have an opportunity to play for the league championship in the last game, we’re really grateful for that.”

In the first meeting between the two squads, on Jan. 15, it was Valencia coming out with a 1-0 victory at home.

“I expect we’ll be ready for the game (today) and I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Scalercio said. “And I honestly think it’s going to be a great game.”

For Golden Valley, the tie with West Ranch was a way to show people it’s better than its 1-5-3 league record.

But for Hart, the reward was even greater.

The Indians’ draw with Valencia leaves them in third place in the Foothill League, needing only a draw today at home against Canyon at 3:15 p.m. to clinch a CIF-Southern Section Division IV playoff berth.

Things were bleak for Hart right off the bat, as Valencia scored in the second minute off a goal from Jesus Fernandez to put the Vikings ahead.

But Hart senior Jonathan Rose answered back, equalizing in the 58th minute off an assist from Gabriel Robinson.

Robinson has been sidelined for the majority of the season due to a hamstring injury, but provided the pivotal assist to move Hart one step closer to the postseason.

The tie improved the Indians’ league record to 4-3-2, giving them 14 points to fourth-place Saugus’ 11 points.

The Centurions need a lot of help, though, if they are going to qualify for the postseason.

At 6-9-5 overall, they are unlikely to receive an at-large spot with an overall record under .500. As a result, Saugus needs to defeat Golden Valley at home today at 3:15 p.m., hope Hart loses to last-place Canyon and send the third-place spot from the Foothill League to a tiebreaker.

The first tiebreaker, head-to-head, is even at 1-1. The second tiebreaker would consist of a point system to be determined by the final standings, where a victory over the league champion is worth six points (a tie three points), second-place worth five points, and so on continuing down the standings.

Saugus did everything it could to keep its hopes alive on Tuesday, defeating Canyon 3-0.

Brian Perez scored 10 minutes into the game to put Saugus ahead for good. Danny Torres added the next two goals, both in the second half off assists from Perez.

“I think that my team is finally starting to peak the last six games with us playing every team in our league and playing Canyon twice,” said Saugus head coach Seth Groller. “The last six games, only giving up two goals and our only loss in those six games was against West Ranch and that was a 1-0 loss where we were definitely in it. The ball wasn’t bouncing our way that day. Regardless with what happens (today) I told my players at practice (Wednesday), knowing this could be our last practice, I’m proud of them and we’re playing the kind of soccer that we all knew we were capable of. It’s nice to see that, to get a little validation in terms of the hard work everyone has been putting in throughout the season.”

 

Girls soccer

Things aren’t so cloudy on the girls side, as Valencia defeated Hart 3-1 on Tuesday afternoon to win its third Foothill League title in program history, and first since 2009.

The championship also marked the first time since 2001 Valencia has won the title outright, after sharing it with Canyon the last time around.

The team also rose to No. 20 in Elite Soccer Report’s top 50 national rankings.

Things remained interesting farther down the standings, though, with Canyon, Hart, Saugus and West Ranch jockeying for playoff position.

The Wildcats, thought to be out of the playoff picture after failing to win a game in its first seven league contests, have suddenly surged into fourth-place.

Here’s where things stand through nine games: The automatic playoff seeds are gone, with Valencia assured the league’s No. 1 seed, and some combination of Hart and Canyon taking the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds, with the two teams battling it out today at Canyon High at 5 p.m.

Canyon, with 15 points, needs only a draw or better to clinch the second seed, while Hart, at 14 points, needs a victory.

“We talked about it (Wednesday) at practice,” said Canyon head coach Derek Rusk. “We win or tie and we take second place and we have no interest in a tie. Their mind set is we’re going to go in and we have every intention of winning.”

Where things get interesting is the fourth-seed, where the finisher would need to apply for an at-large bid into the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs, provided it has a .500 record or better.

Saugus, which was stellar during the preleague season, would likely get in, due in large part to its 15-0-0 preleague record.

But a 2-0 loss to West Ranch on Feb. 1 and a 1-1 draw with Canyon on Tuesday have dropped Saugus to nine points, one point behind the Wildcats.

Saugus finishes the season at Golden Valley, a team still looking for its first Foothill League win of the season, but the same team that tied the Centurions 0-0 on Jan. 22.

West Ranch’s road is far from smooth, though, with Valencia playing host to the Wildcats at 5 p.m. tonight.

A win locks the Wildcats into fourth, and would give them an over .500 record, as they sit at 7-6-5 entering the final day.

“It feels great to even be in a situation where it’s possible to make playoffs,” West Ranch head coach Jared White said. “We are excited for the opportunity and ready for the challenge.”

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