3 girls soccer teams ready for round 2 of playoffs

West Ranch's Perla Lorenzo (19) and Valencia's Angelina Maldonado (10) fight for a ball at Valencia on Jan. 28, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

West Ranch at Temecula Valley, 3 p.m.

Temecula Valley High is about a two-hour drive (without traffic) from West Ranch. But the Wildcats, who are making their first second-round girls soccer playoff appearance in program history, remain more motivated than ever.

“We’ve never been in this situation,” said coach Jared White. “This is a new territory for us, for the program and coaching staff. Temecula is far, it’s going to be a long drive, but we’re excited.”

MORE SOCCER: Valencia, Hart boys soccer moving on in postseason

West Ranch (12-4-6) has been bit with the end-of-season injury bug, particularly on defense, but now is largely healthy heading into today’s game aside from a few players battling head colds.

The Cats will have to be at top strength when they take on the high-scoring offense of the Golden Bears (21-3-2).

The attack is led by Christine Maurer, who has 18 goals on 39 shots this season. Sophie Gaderi, who has six goals and 13 assists, is also on West Ranch’s radar.

“We know they have a very dynamic player up top or somewhere near the attacking position,” White said. “We know they can score, we know they get a lot of shots. So defensively we’re working on staying organized and communicating where players are at all times.”

Upland at Hart, 3 p.m.

The Indians are coming off of what coach Guilherme Mitrovitch called “the toughest first round he’s had” in his four years coaching the team.

Hart (20-2-4) narrowly defeated Long Beach Poly 2-1 after a late goal from Taylor Scott on Thursday.

That win earned them home field advantage for the second time in as many games in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs.

Hart’s Taylor Scott (10) dribbles the ball downfield en route to a late second-half goal for the Indians during a playoff soccer game against Long Beach Poly at Hart on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“I hope it helps,” Mitrovitch said. “I think the fact that you don’t have to go earlier and plan on how you’re going to get the girls lunch and the driving, I think that’s a factor. I also think the fact that you can get more people behind your team, I think that motivates the girls a little bit more.”

Upland finished first in the competitive Baseline League and has a 15-2-4 overall record. It’s the same league that features Chino Hills, who defeated Hart in the CIF-SS finals in 2014.

Mitrovitch said size is Upland’s advantage, so winning balls in the air will be a bigger challenge than usual.

Hart has also focused on both defending and scoring on set pieces in the past two training sessions.

The Indians have a tough game ahead of them, but the anxiety that originally accompanied playing in the Division 1 playoffs has mostly subsided.

“I think there’s a good attitude,” said Mitrovitch. “I think we’re prepared, we’re confident, but we know it’s going to be a battle that’s going to be decided by little details.”

Newbury Park at Valencia, 5 p.m.

Speed kills, and Newbury Park girls soccer has it.

Sisters Tara and Kaitlyn McKeown — the former of which is a USC commit — are the two quicksilvers that the Vikings will spend their time marking.

Valencia’s Kiana Kukaua (5) slides in to kick the ball during a soccer game at Hart on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“They have a lot of speed,” said coach Kevin Goralsky. “That’s going to be one of our main priorities … Playing tight. Marking tighter. So not allowing their players to get up to speed.”

Finishing is also a priority for the Vikes (13-9-2), who couldn’t capitalize on scoring chances in last week’s first-round Division 2 playoff win against San Luis Obispo.

“We had chances against San Luis Obispo in regulation,” Goralsky said. “All of them went to their keeper. We need to finish chances in order to win.”

Valencia beat Newbury Park (10-4-4) in preleague last year, 1-0. The team is used to tight games though, especially after last week’s win over San Luis Obispo, which came in PKs after two rounds of overtime.

“Regulation last game was kind of back and forth,” Goralsky said. “They kind of put a lot of pressure on us in OT. It was encouraging that if we play 80 minutes, we have a chance to win.”

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