Hart faces tough road test at North Torrance

Dan Watson/The Signal

The Hart boys soccer team continues its path to a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title on the road against North Torrance at North Torrance High School at 4 p.m. today.

The road hasn’t been easy, but the Indians have weathered the storm in the past two games. They came back to win in penalty kicks in contests against Montebello, and upset the No. 4 ranked team in the final CIF-SS rankings, Norwalk, at home.

Hart (18-2-3 overall) entered the first round as the No. 5 ranked team in Division 3 in the polls after winning the Foothill League outright and defeated Royal 7-2 at home. 

Lawrence Luna recorded his second hat-trick of the season against the Highlanders, Nicholas Woll scored two goals and Nathaniel Bello and Gustavo Valdez netted one each.

“It just proves to us that the game is about moments and when we have our moments, we need to take advantage,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel via text message. “On the other hand, when the other team has their moments, we need to work as a group to not give away opportunities to score.”

“Also, it made us believe that even in our worst moments (we’ve) got to fight to keep ourselves in the game. It will always be a battle. No easy games and we need to stay engaged the whole game until the whistle blows.”

In the second round against Montebello, Woll scored a goal in the waning minutes of regulation against, forcing overtime and PKs. In the shootout, Hart goalkeeper Lucas Enriquez set the tone on the first PK with a stop. The Indians scored on all four of their attempts and Enriquez came up with a big save on the Oilers’ last shot to win 4-3 in PKs.

With their backs against the wall in the quarterfinals against Norwalk on Tuesday, the Indians clawed their way back from two deficits at home to force overtime for the second straight game and win in PKs, 3-1.

Woll and Joseph Ochoa scored the equalizers for the Indians, while Enriquez stopped the first three of four PK attempts to push the Indians through to the semifinals.

The No. 9 ranked North Torrance (21-3) entered the playoffs as the Pioneer League’s first-place finisher, going undefeated in the league. 

The Saxons kicked off the playoffs with a 4-1 win against Los Amigos in the first round, followed it up with a second-round 4-2 upset of No. 8 Bell Gardens and ended Alta Loma’s, the Palomares League’s third-place finisher, magical playoff run in a 5-1 victory in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

North Torrance has won 16 consecutive matches entering today’s semifinal, while the Indians have been unbeaten in the past 10. Kickoff is at 4 p.m.

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