Battling a strong, cold wind, in an aggressive and physical game, the Hart High girls soccer team could not be stopped and came up with the win against the Valencia Vikings.
The Hart Indians (4-1-1) defeated the Valencia Vikings (4-2-2) in a league match on Tuesday evening with a final score of 4-1 at Valencia.
Hart head coach Brett Croft said he chose to rest his team over winter break instead of competing and felt the time with family allowed the players to come back fresh and ready for a demanding schedule.
“I think it was good for them to have a little mental reset, and just be with family,” Croft said. “As far as coming back, we’re just a very technical team, so we just focus on getting a lot of touches on the ball before a game.”
Hart scored early in the first half, with Maggie Yoshioka, captain of the Indians, scoring a goal at the 28-minute mark. Yoshioka would close out the game by making a final goal in the last two minutes of the match.
Yoshioka won the ball from a defender, and the keeper came out to get the ball, and Yoshioka tapped the ball into the goal. Her second goal occurred when she was passed the ball, faked a kick, and ran past a defender.
“I was a little bit uncertain, but I took the shot with my left foot and went for the far post and it just fell in,” Yoshioka said.
Yoshioka credited the maturity of her team for staying positive when they’re struggling, and the chemistry the team shares allows them to play well.
The second goal from Hart came at the 15-minute mark in the first half with a fierce stride by Alexis Nguyen. A third goal was made at the 4-minute mark by Adrielle Salvador, a promising freshman on the team, according to Croft.
“I was really excited and kind of unexpected because my sister [Arianna] had shot the ball, and it got saved,” Salvador said. “Then I was able to rebound it, and luckily, I was able to get my goal.”
Salvador said that, during the break, the team trained and was able to rest for the holidays in terms of matches. She thanked her coach, parents and teammates for encouragement and support to perform her best.
Even with the match’s success, Salvador’s eyes are set on winning a league title.
“I want to keep winning our games, and I strive to win Foothill League,” Salvador said.
The second half saw Valencia attempt a comeback, and Laurel Durkin scoring a goal helped shorten the deficit. The momentum in the second half saw a shift with the Vikings, who applied heavy pressure against the Indians but were ultimately unable to overcome Hart.
“The difference in the second half was nothing we changed or did, and I think it was just a testament to Valencia coming in with some fight, playing,” Croft said about Valencia. “I thought they played really well in the second half and gave us a game.”
Croft said the team is very selfless and cares more about the team making the goals than a specific individual. He added the players are well-rehearsed in creating complex passing plays that lead to goals.
“Honestly, that’s just high-level soccer playing, and that’s all the players and not me, those girls are high-level soccer players,” Croft said.
The Indians return home on Jan. 18 to take on the Golden Valley Grizzlies at 3:15 p.m. The Vikings are scheduled to play a home game against Saugus on Friday at 5 p.m.