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Foothill soccer: expect the unexpected

The Day After Soccer: Foothill soccer races are neck and neck at season's midway point

Posted: January 29, 2014 10:01 p.m.
Updated: January 29, 2014 10:01 p.m.

Valencia's Carolina Velez settles the ball in front of her. Valencia leads the league with a 4-0-1 record.

 

Foothill League soccer coaches constantly reiterate the lack of predictability during the season, and Tuesday’s action reinforced and refuted those claims simultaneously.

As far as unexpected results go, the logical starting point is probably Golden Valley boys soccer’s 5-0 win over Saugus. The Grizzlies (7-8-4 overall, 1-2-2 Foothill League) have a talented core of players, but that ability had yet to translate to success until Tuesday’s offensive explosion against the Centurions. The result had huge implications, especially for Saugus (9-9, 2-3-0).

With a win or a draw, the Centurions would have been in the middle of the pack of a wide-open race for second place in league. Realistically, the Centurions can still finish right there, but the journey will be a bit tougher given Tuesday’s loss.

A team that is continuing to help itself at the right time is Valencia (9-3-3, 2-2-1). The Viking boys beat West Ranch 2-1 on Tuesday, and after entering the second week of Foothill action without a league win, the Vikings are tied for second place with the Wildcats (5-7-2, 2-2-1) heading into the second leg of league matches.

“It’s unpredictable,” said West Ranch head coach Fausto Arana following the loss. “Every team here has a chance to be on top as long as they have their game on.”

No team is “on” right now like the Hart Indians.

The Indians boys are blistering through league play, outscoring opponents 15-2 in Foothill contests while still nursing a few injured players back into game action.

The Indians (10-4-2, 4-1) took a commanding hold of first place with a 4-0 victory over Canyon (6-6-5, 1-2-2) on Tuesday, and a home win against West Ranch on Friday would put Hart in a more advantageous position. Rounding out Friday’s matches are Saugus’ showdown with Valencia at Valencia, and Canyon’s matchup against Golden Valley at Golden Valley.

As far as Foothill girls soccer has gone the first half of the year — the more things change the more they stay the same.

Once again, the Vikings (15-1-2, 4-0-1) are looking strong heading into the season’s close out matches. This despite Valencia’s consistent injury setbacks.

The Vikings’ 2-0 win over West Ranch (9-6-4, 2-3) on Tuesday gave the Vikings a small cushion at the top of the league standings.

And given how solid Hart (10-5-3, 3-0-2) and Canyon (11-5-3, 3-1-1) have been this year, the Vikings know how small that cushion could prove to be.

The Cowboys and Indians faced each other with an opportunity to each pick up a fourth league win on Tuesday at Hart. Instead, the teams settled on a 1-1 draw.

“Pretty physical game, haven’t watched film yet. But yeah, it was very physical,” said Canyon head coach Derek Rusk. “Both sides were back-and-forth, both sides had chances. At this point it seems like we are going to have to win out for a chance at (a) league (title). But still, it’s one game at a time.”

Despite its current third-place position, Canyon has the largest goal differential of any team in Foothill League play, netting 11 goals while surrendering just three.

Hart has yet to lose a match in league play, joining Valencia as the only other team to have that accomplishment. Expect hard-fought rematches between the league’s top three teams. No team has established a clear advantage over the other, and first place is still statistically up for grabs between the rivals.

Saugus (5-8-4, 1-4) may have taken longer to get a league win than its Foothill counterparts, but the Centurions got a win nonetheless by beating Golden Valley 2-0. The Centurions might have some of the fastest players in the Foothill League, and they’ll need every bit of that speed in generating more offense through the next wave of league matches.

Golden Valley (8-6-2, 0-5) will look for more goals as well, as the Grizzlies have scored just twice through the first five games of Foothill Play.

Struggling offenses are a common theme among the bottom three teams in the league.

West Ranch, Saugus and Golden Valley have combined for 11 goals total in Foothill play. In contrast, Valencia, Canyon and Hart have each hit the 11-goal mark already.

On Friday, Golden Valley will travel to Canyon, Hart is on the road at West Ranch and Valencia is at Saugus in a rematch of a 3-2 thriller on Jan. 14.

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