On Friday at West Ranch, Hart and West Ranch boys soccer both had something big at stake: an undefeated record.
The Indians were rewarded with that flawless record after a 1-0 win.
“Our mindset was pretty much, this game is ours, we’re going to win this league,” said defensive mid Darwin Herrera. “We’ve got to go out with everything we have no matter what.”
Although West Ranch’s attack was clicking in the first half, it was Herrera who scored the game’s only goal in the 31st minute on a set piece.
“I just went for the quick play because we’ve been practicing that at our practice this past week,” Herrera, a junior, said. “I was waiting for the run, I saw the run go in, cross got in, ran to that ball, put it away.”
MORE: Foothill League girls soccer roundup: Hart outlasts rain and West Ranch to stay perfect in league
The Wildcats (7-2-2 overall, 3-1 in Foothill League) nearly had a goal of their own in the 51st minute, but it was called off by officials. The focus shifted to defense for the Cats.
West Ranch was able to keep the box locked down and prevent another Hart goal, but the Indians relentlessly coasted up the sideline to swoop in for shots.
“They’re a pretty physical team,” said Herrera, “but once we kept on pressing around them, it was a piece of cake.”
The Indians (10-6-1, 4-0) flaunted a solid defense of their own. With the keeper displaced, West Ranch’s Danny Paredes directed a shot at the left post, but was intercepted by a Hart defender who had jumped into goal.
With the final minutes ticking down, West Ranch coach Louis Mogrovejo put extra emphasis on the attack, moving defender Taylor Kozlov up to striker and pushing players up top with one last hope for a goal.
“This one burns,” Mogrovejo said. “In my eyes, we were the better team … I was proud of my boys … We played a god game, unfortunately, we just couldn’t put it away and that’s just eh way soccer is.
We’re going to see Hart at home and that’s when we take our game back.”
Valencia 2, Golden Valley 0
Adan Saldana and Brennan Book each scored for the Vikings, who move to 3-6-3 and 1-2-1 on the season.
Golden Valley is now 3-8-2 and 0-4 and plays West Ranch at home on Tuesday. Valencia will play Canyon on Tuesday.
Saugus 4, Canyon 0
Colton Dolder, Frank Ornelas, Dylan Sullivan and Jeremy Hindigian netted goals for the Centurions (8-4-4, 2-1-1). Saugus plays at Hart on Tuesday.
Canyon is 3-12-2 and 1-3 and will take on Valencia on Tuesday.