Golden Valley boys soccer captures first Foothill League win, Hart and Valencia tie, Saugus wins big

Golden Valley senior Robert Castro pushes the ball upfield in a Foothill League matchup with the Cowboys at Golden Valley Tuesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal
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Vying for its first Foothill League win of the year, Golden Valley boys soccer began the game fast, catching Canyon on its heels on Tuesday.

Scoring in the opening minutes of the game, Golden Valley was able to hold off Canyon in the second half to come away with a 2-1 win.

“They boys played the way we have been training all year, which is developing the composure and calmness to play their game even under pressure,” said Golden Valley head coach Ken Claborn. “The way we started was indicative of what we have been able to work on in practice.”

Three minutes into the game, Golden Valley (4-9-4 overall, 1-6-0 in Foothill League) was able to net the game’s first goal as Juan Mendez took a shot from the right flank that landed in the side netting to give the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead.

Using quick one-touch passes, Golden Valley was able to keep control of the ball, ramping up its attack in the middle of the field with Robert Castro’s sly passes.

“We focus on that every practice,” Claborn said of the Grizzlies’ passing. “We are developing that mode of play in all three levels and we want to make sure that we are implementing that and maintaining that style throughout the game.”

With Castro occupying and winning almost every ball in the middle of the field, Canyon’s trio of Drew Leskin, Harrison Davis and Tito Gonzalez had a hard time finding any space to create any viable scoring opportunities.

“I don’t think we warmed up tremendously well,” said Canyon head coach Robert Benavidez. “We were sluggish the first half, hats off to them, they came in inspired. It’s a different ball club with Robert Castro in the middle.”

Down 1-0 in the second half, Canyon (6-9-4, 3-2-2) made a formation change, bringing Leskin and Davis to the right flank and moving Gonzalez down to a more central role.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Canyon defender Longino Valencia was able to clear a ball finding Harrison just able midfield on the right flank. Taking a quick touch, Davis was able to flick the ball up to a sprinting Gonzalez at the edge of the 18-yard box.

Seeing the Grizzlies’ goalkeeper was rushing out to corral the ball, Gonzalez brought the ball to his right foot, faking out the goalie, and put up a shot that landed in the back of the net.

“We went to a different formation to create some different opportunities and push a couple bodies up top to use Harrison and Drew on the wings,” Benavide said. ”On that goal, we connected three of four passes, boom-boom-boom, and were able to break Tito through and he buried it in the back of the net.”

With the game winding down and looking like it was going to end up in a tie, Golden Valley’s Johnny Saavedra was able to flick a ball over Canyon’s backline to Cesar Perez. Perez confidently flicked the ball over the outstretched hands of the Canyon goalie as the ball bounced into the net, sealing Golden Valley’s first league win of the year.

“I was just really happy to win a game because we have been working really hard all season and this is what we wanted,” Perez said. “It means that we are progressing as we go. The next step is to win more games and get a higher seed in league.”

Golden Valley travels to Saugus to play at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday. Canyon hosts Hart at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Hart 2, Valencia 2

Valencia (6-1-8, 3-0-4) scored the opening goal in the 20th minute of the game, but Hart was able to tie the game before the half on a Jesus Alfonso “Olimpico” corner kick that went straight in.

The Vikings took back the lead in the 60th minute, but once again Hart (11-6-4, 4-0-3) answered with a goal in the 80th minute as Darwin Herrera assisted on a cross to Nick Wall to end the game in a tie.

Saugus 7, West Ranch 4

Dylan Sullivan scored four goals and assisted on two others in the contest for Saugus (9-5-4, 3-2-2) while Aidan Sutherland netted two and Colton Dolder scored one and assisted on another in the win. Frank Ornelas also assisted on a goal for the Cents.

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