By Ryan Stuart
and Haley Sawyer
Signal Staff Writers
Foothill League boys soccer begins on Tuesday and after two teams tied for the league title last season, the competition for first place this season will be tough.
Hart and Valencia shared the top spot in the Foothill League last year with 6-0-4 records in league play. So far this season, Hart is 9-1 and Valencia is 1-2-2, according to Maxpreps.com.
Former All-SCV Player of the Year Lawrence Luna has made his return to the team after a one-season hiatus. In 2018, Luna led the Indians with 20 goals.
The Indians also return All-SCV First-Team midfielder Joseph Ochoa. He was a threat on offense and was the driving force in several of Hart’s Foothill wins.
Valencia continues its 2019-20 campaign chasing a third-straight Foothill League title.
Saugus could also be a contender for the league title this season. The Centurions have worked their way to a 6-3 record with contributions from a variety of players on offense.
“Different guys are stepping up and it’s not like we have that one forward, we’re going to play the through ball and he’s going to beat everyone with his speed and score,” Saugus coach Seth Groller said in preleague after beating La Sierra in the Silverlakes Winter Classic. “We’re developing the play and creating opportunities for ourselves.”
Connor Claborn made an immediate impact for Saugus last year as a freshman. He returns to the Centurions after being the only freshman on the All-SCV team and being one of two freshmen on the All-SCA team.
After a solid preseason, Saugus sits in second place in the Foothill League on a three-game win streak with league play right around the corner.
In third is Golden Valley. The Grizzlies ended the preseason with a tie against Centennial to finish 6-3-1. Their one tie keeps them a half-game back from the No. 2 spot.
The Grizzly defense is one of the best in the league, averaging only 1.2 goals per game. That puts them at third behind Hart’s 0.5 goals allowed per game and Valencia’s 1, who offers the smallest sample size.
Canyon follows directly behind Golden Valley with six wins of their own. What keeps them behind the Grizzlies is the two extra games they played which resulted in six losses for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys defense ranks third among Foothill teams .500 or better this season, allowing only 1.3 goals per game. It is led by returning senior midfielder Edwardo Quijano. His strength put him in a position to steal the ball from opposing players only to quickly turn around and create a threat on offense.
West Ranch begins the Foothill League season under new direction as Mike Kane has taken the helm and coached the Wildcats to a 2-3-1 record so far this season.
The Cats ended the 2019 season at the bottom of the Foothill League standings with a 1-8-1 record in league.
This year, West Ranch’s biggest win has been an 8-0 romp of Desert Christian. It has only been shut out once so far, in a 3-0 loss to St. Francis, and the other two losses have been by two goals or less.
The Wildcats begin their league slate at Saugus at 3:15 p.m.