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Prep boys soccer: Finale, first, finally

Valencia wins first-ever Foothill League title with win in season ender

Posted: February 8, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 8, 2013 1:55 a.m.

Valencia goalkeeper Gino Ferraro and teammate Zach Klindworth celebrate their 1-0 win over West Ranch on Thursday at West Ranch High.

 

With as rich of an athletic history as the Valencia Vikings have had in so many other sports, somehow a Foothill League boys soccer championship has eluded the program all this time.

On Thursday at West Ranch High School, the 18-year wait was over for Valencia, which needed a win in its final league game of the season over the West Ranch Wildcats.

And in a fitting one-goal, defensive-style game, the Vikings got the 1-0 victory over West Ranch, which had to watch players and fans charge the field in a spirited celebration when it was all over.

“The feeling of winning our first championship for this school our senior year is just something that’s priceless,” said Valencia senior Zach Klindworth. “We earned it the whole year.”

The Vikings (15-4-3 overall, 7-0-3 Foothill League) finish as the league’s only undefeated team, yet they came into the day trailing the Wildcats (15-5-3, 7-2-1) by a point in the standings.

A tie would have given West Ranch its third straight Foothill crown.

But it wasn’t in the cards for the Wildcats, who gave up the deciding goal in the 55th minute and couldn’t punch one through despite several chances after the score.

Valencia senior Jesus Fernandez scored in the 55th minute off a perfectly delivered pass by Klindworth in the 18-yard box.

Klindworth dribbled the ball down the left side, beat a pair of defenders and waited until the last second to deliver the ball to a waiting Fernandez from within 10 yards of goal.

The senior forward instantly diverted credit toward his teammate for the score.

“Zach gave me the ball,” Fernandez said. “If Zach didn’t give me the ball, we wouldn’t have scored, so that just shows how we play as a team.”

Though neither team generated much offense in the first half, West Ranch brought an onslaught of attacks into Valencia’s half of the field after the goal.

After managing just one shot before halftime, the Wildcats added nine in the second half, many of them trickling just wide of the crossbars.

Eduardo Montes took three quality shots for West Ranch and Wade McMillon had two.

In the final minutes of the game, Valencia was awarded a penalty kick, but Klindworth’s attempt was saved by West Ranch goalkeeper Alex Manzo.

It gave the Wildcats a last gasp of hope.

“We played well. It’s not as if we played badly,” said West Ranch head coach Fred McGinn. “(Valencia) deserves it.”

The game played out in nearly identical fashion to the first matchup between the same teams on Jan. 22, which also ended in a 1-0 win for the Vikings.

Last year, West Ranch clinched a league championship by beating Valencia in the final game of the regular season at Valencia High School.

After watching West Ranch celebrate on their home field a year ago, the Vikings got to return the favor on Thursday with a good-sized student section in attendance.

“I wanted those boys to win a league title so badly for themselves because they worked so hard,” said Valencia head coach Tony Scalercio.

Though Valencia gets the Foothill’s top seed in the CIF-Southern Section Division IV playoffs, West Ranch gets second place in league and a possible home game for the first round of the postseason.

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