The CIF-Southern Section playoff pairings for boys and girls soccer were announced on Saturday afternoon and seven Foothill League teams reached the postseason.
The Hart boys and girls teams will host a playoff game, as will the Valencia boys team, while the other four squads will hit the road to start the playoffs.
The girls games begin on Wednesday, with Hart hosting El Dorado, a team that finished 14-4-8 overall and second in the Crestview League with a 3-1-2 record. Hart just completed a perfect 10-0 season in the Foothill League for the first time in 22 years.
The Indians’ success in the regular season earned them a home playoff game, which is crucial when facing tougher teams in a playoff setting.
“It’s so important to have a home game because you are familiar with the field, you know where you are and you don’t have to spend all that time traveling so you have that energy you need,” Hart forward Alyssa Irwin said. “Plus people come and support you when you’re at home and that feels really nice, so it’s extremely important.”
Hart and El Dorado had one common opponent this season, Harvard-Westlake, a team that has one loss this year and finished the season as the No. 6 ranked team in Division 1.
The Golden Hawks lost to the Wolverines 2-0, while the Indians tied them 0-0.
El Dorado, who has climbed two divisions in two years, won the Division 3 championship in 2016-17.
The Golden Hawks have played a handful of high-ranking opponents this year, having played five of the top 10 teams in Division 1.
“If you look at their schedule, they’ve played some tough competition. They’ve played a lot of the top-ranked teams. I believe they are battle-tested,” Hart head coach Guilherme Mitrovitch said. “I think they are going to pass the ball well and have good attacking, flare in their game. We got to be ready, we can’t afford to have a bad half or a bad 30 minutes. We have to make sure we show up ready to go and focus on our strengths.
“Just play our game and put them under pressure and try to get a good start and read their team early and adjust from there.”
West Ranch girls soccer, who finished in second place in the Foothill League with a 6-3-1 league record and a 10-3-3 overall record, will travel to Downey to face the Vikings, a team that finished 14-5-5 overall and 8-1-1 in the San Gabriel Valley League.
Downey was ranked as the No. 3 team in Division 3 according to the latest CIF-SS polls released on Saturday.
The first round playoff matchup will mark the first time West Ranch and Downey have faced off against each other.
“It’s kind of nice to not know the players you’re playing against, there is a little bit of intrigue to it, there’s a little bit more excitement. It comes with some anxiety too but these are emotions that we haven’t felt in a while,” West Ranch head coach Jared White said. “We’re happy to just go out and control what we can control. We get to fine-tune that, get to perfect that, let’s go give it our best effort with how we like to play soccer. So there’s a little bit of excitement when you don’t know anything about the team. The girls are excited and we’re excited as a coaching staff for the challenge.”
The Saugus girls team finished in third place in league with a 5-3-2 record and a 14-4-6 overall record, making the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign.
The Centurions reward for their best finish in six years is a matchup with Sunny Hills, a team that had only one loss this year and conceded just 10 goals in 26 games. The CIF-SS rankings listed the Lancers as the No. 2 team in Division 2.
The Lancers reached the CIF-SS Division 2 semifinals last year, dispatching Valencia 2-0 on their way to a final-four finish.
“Anything can happen. It’s the playoffs. It doesn’t matter if a team is undefeated going into the playoffs or has 10 losses, anybody can beat anybody on any given day,” Saugus head coach Kevin Miner said after the conclusion of the regular season. “We have to come out with that playoff mentality and try and score first, get that lead and keep playing solid defense like we do and see what happens.
“Regardless how far we go, I’m super proud of these girls.”
Valencia girls soccer finished with a 9-8-4 overall record and 3-5-2 league record, making its fourth straight playoff appearance by earning an at-large-bid in Division 2.
The Vikings will face Bishop Amat, who finished 15-3-4 and 8-0 in the Del Rey League. The teams shared one common opponent from this season, La Serna, which both the Vikings and Lancers defeated.
After missing the postseason last year, the Valencia boys team clinched a share of the Foothill League crown with a 6-0-4 league record and a 9-1-8 overall record.
The Vikings will host the winner of the Wildcard game between Carpinteria and Santa Ynez on Thursday.
Hart boys soccer also finished 6-0-4 in the Foothill League and 13-6-5 overall, earning a home playoff game against Dos Pueblos on Thursday.
The Chargers enter as an at-large-bid with a 14-9-2 overall record and 5-5 record in the Channel League.
Hart and Dos Pueblos have faced off three times previously in preleague action, with Hart winning the first two games in 2012 and 2014 and Does Pueblos winning the latest matchup 3-2 in 2017.
Like Valencia, the Saugus boys team also returns to the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Centurions finished 11-6-4 overall and third in league with a 5-3-2 record.
Saugus will travel to Whittier on Thursday to face Santa Fe in the first round of Division 4, with the game being held at Pioneer High School.
The Chiefs won the Del Rio League with a 6-0-2 record, finished 14-3-4 overall and haven’t lost a game since Nov. 29.
Of Santa Fe’s eight league games, seven were shutouts and the Chiefs enter the playoffs as the No. 7 ranked team in Division 4.
“They are a first-place team. The thing that stands out to us is they seem to be a very sound defensive team just based on the stats,” Saugus head coach Seth Groller said. “We have some pretty dynamic players who can do a lot of damage offensively, but it’s definitely going to be tough, it’s not going to come easy.”
Two years ago, Saugus made a run to the Division 4 championship game before falling 2-0 to Bellflower.
Some of the players on the 2016-17 roster are now senior leaders for the Cents, and will use that experience to their advantage as they try to make another deep playoff run.
“For all of them, especially the seniors, we talk about this is a ‘you lose you’re done scenario,’ so everybody is going out there with the same intensity, realizing what’s at stake here. We expect a very good game,” Groller said.
Two Santa Clarita Valley boys teams will also play in the Division 7 Wildcard round on Wednesday, with Trinity Classical Academy facing the Academy for Academic Excellence and Santa Clarita Valley International taking on Cobalt Institute of Math and Science Academy.
Trinity will face Academy for Academic Excellence at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at Heritage Christian High School. The game time and location for the SCVi vs Cobalt Institute game is still to be determined.