Golden Valley boys soccer has been in the process of establishing a winning culture. And in the 2020 Foothill League season, it looks as though that culture is here to stay as the Grizzlies beat Canyon 2-1 at home on Thursday afternoon.
“I feel like this year we get along better and we know each other’ solo play and we just communicate in the field,” said junior Pablo Luna.
The Grizzlies weren’t discouraged after the Cowboys’ Griffin Barbula scored the first goal of the game in the seventh minute. The first half favored neither team as the control on offense continued to shift between Golden Valley and Canyon.
Cesar Perez scored the first goal for the Grizzlies in the 17th minute on a free kick to even the score at 1-1. Golden Valley had another opportunity less than a minute later as Ulises Arruel took a shot from the right side that swiftly went past Canyon’s keeper, but the goal was waved offsides.
“The first half I thought we played really well,” said Grizzlies coach Ken Claborn. “We had good possession, we created some good chances and then second half we just wanted to keep doing that. So we had to match Canyon’s physicality and their intensity because they’re a very intense and strong team. I knew as long as we match that we would be in good shape.”
Claborn got his wish on the other side of halftime as Golden Valley was able to out-grind Canyon to keep possession of the ball the majority of the time.
Luna sped past defenders and kept control of the ball to score the go-ahead goal in the 46th minute on a cross from the left side.
“I feel like everything we’ve done in practice shows in the game,” Luna, a first-year varsity player, said. “And that’s how we got our goal … We’ve been working hard since last season ended. We’ve been working nonstop and I feel like it’s showing on the field.”
Golden Valley has already surpassed its win total from last season, which saw five games (two in league) go in the Grizzlies’ favor. The year prior, they had three wins overall and none in Foothill League play.
“They have a huge bond,” Claborn said. “And part of it is from the three or four years that they’ve been here going through the process of losing to not lose to not winning very much to now starting to win and to feel that their hard work is paying off. It’s because they’re working as a group.”
Golden Valley next plays at Saugus on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. Canyon will host Hart at 5 p.m. on the same day.