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Hart boys soccer clinches league crown

Posted: February 11, 2014 10:46 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2014 10:46 p.m.

Hart soccer players, from left, Anthony Salvadori, Jeysen Rodriguez and Riley Waldeck, celebrate after scoring a goal against Valencia at Hart High on Tuesday.

 

Across the past three years, the Hart High boys soccer team could easily be considered the Foothill League’s best team never to win a league title.

Hart isn’t just a bridesmaid anymore.

With a 2-0 win over the defending league champion Valencia Vikings, the Hart Indians wrapped up this year’s Foothill title on Tuesday at Hart High School.

It’s the first league crown for Hart since 2008.

“It feels amazing,” said Hart midfielder Jeysen Rodriguez. “It’s a dream I’ve been having since I was young.”

Rodriguez scored both of his team’s goals on Tuesday, the first one coming early in the first half and the second one following in the game’s final minutes.

Coming into the game, the Indians (13-4-3 overall, 7-1-1 Foothill League) needed either a win or a tie against the second-place Vikings to clinch the league title.

“You can hold them off as long as you possibly can and create opportunities and try to finish them. And we didn’t do that,” said Valencia head coach Tony Scalercio.

The last three seasons, Hart has entered league play with the best non-league record and has contended for the Foothill championship in each of those three seasons.

The Indians came within three points of the title in 2012 and one point in 2011.

This time around, Hart didn’t want to leave it at almost.

“The character is the big thing and they know how to play soccer too, but most important is they aren’t superstars. They play for each other,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel on how this team got over the hump.

A prime example of that unselfish play came in the first half when Rodriguez passed the ball to teammate David White down the sideline.

White took the ball downfield and crossed it back in toward Rodriguez, who tapped the ball in for a 1-0 lead.

From there, both teams remained locked down for most the game.

It wasn’t until late in the game when Hart put the game away. The older Rodriguez brother, Brayon, took a freekick from the top of the 18-yard box and the ball ended up in front of Jeysen after a rebound.

“We knew they were going to come out at us, not us to them, so we knew we just had to be patient,” Jeysen Rodriguez said.

With the loss, Valencia (11-4-4, 4-3-2) fell back into a second-place tie with West Ranch. Those two teams will face off for second place on Thursday in the regular season finale.

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