A third straight Foothill League title, two come-from-behind victories in penalty kicks and the last standing Foothill League or SCV boys soccer team, Hart High had another special season that ended in the semifinals of the CIf playoffs.
The Hart boys soccer team not only finished the season atop the league standings winning the title outright with a 6-1-3 record, the Indians have won at least a share of the title for the past three years, but were one of six CIF-SS Division 3 teams to win 18 or more games. The Indians finished CIF-SS play 18-3-3 overall, as the No. 5-ranked team in Division 3.
“Not every coach has the privilege to say that they won 18 games,” said Hart head coach Adonay Jovel. “It’s not just this time, but there have been multiple times that they have won anywhere from 18 to 23 games. It’s a culture we build here, it’s something that we built. … They followed instructions, worked hard and the progress has been there. They have done well.”
But things didn’t start off so peachy as senior midfielder Joseph Ochoa explained, because of the lack of seriousness and dedication that some of the incoming and younger players were lacking at the beginning of the season.
“I thought that’s how it was going to be the whole season, so I started to get frustrated with the others because they didn’t want to work and I did because it was my last year, and I wanted to win something,” Ochoa said.
The Indians got their attack together and began the season with seven straight wins, giving up just one goal in their opening game of the season in a 3-1 win against Quartz Hill on the road. The Indians scored 15 goals during the stretch.
The following match against Dos Pueblos, a rematch of last season’s first-round playoff exit, a 4-2 loss, Hart suffered its first of only three losses during CIF-SS play in a 3-2 defeat.
“I didn’t even think of that, to be honest,” Jovel said of the rematch. “I think this group responded very well. After we lost to them, I don’t think we should have lost that game, but they played well the following game. Yes, they have the thought that they lost, but it encouraged them more than it actually hurt them.”
The Indians breezed through the rest of non-league play and most of the Foothill slate, with the exceptions of both games against Canyon and Valencia.
Hart lost its only league game of the season in the first match against Canyon 1-0, tied its second game against the Cowboys and tied both games against Valencia.
“Both teams are great teams,” said Hart senior Nicholas Woll. “Valencia came in a close second this season and gave us a run for our money. They are both well-coached and overall good competition to play against.”
In the playoffs, Hart defeated Royal 7-2, drew with Montebello and Norwalk in regulation and overtime, 1-1 and 2-2, respectively, defeating them both on PKs before exiting in the semifinals against North Torrance in overtime 4-3.