By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
The Hart Indians (9-1-5, 8-0-4) have come this far due to their suffocating defense all season long. In a first-round CIF playoff matchup against the Oxnard Yellowjackets (8-6-7, 3-4-4), the Indians continued doing what they do best.
The Indians took down the Yellowjackets, 2-1, on Friday and now have another chance to continue their postseason hopes at home.
“It feels great,” said Indians’ head coach Gio Salinas in response to advancing to the second round. “We got the job done today but there’s still a lot of work to do. I’m really proud of the boys today for giving it all in the 80 minutes of the game. Here at home, we’re the team to beat. We want to represent Newhall and the city of Santa Clarita to go the furthest we can.”
The Indians stayed poised from the first minute of the game, forcing the Yellowjackets to only shoot three shots at the goal in the entire first half — a recipe for disaster for any opponent.
The Indians have had their struggles scoring goals, but Sebastian Ramirez got the party started after a flurry of shots inside the box got him caught up to line up for a penalty kick. At the 22-minute mark, the Indians struck first.
Up to this point in the game, the Yellowjackets had only one shot at the goal.
As the second half rolled away, the Yellowjackets’ change of game plan resulted in a higher number of shots at the goal, but before they had a chance to score, the Indians would strike again at the 25-minute mark.
The Indians’ Gustavo Valadez would score the team’s final goal on a counter-attack with Trent Rickard pushing the ball down the field. Valadez saw an opening, controlled the ball, spotted the second goal post and watched as the ball sailed through the net.
“Our team’s goal is to win the CIF this season even though we made it to the semi-finals last season,” said Valadez. “The main goal is to win it all. We need to stay focused and keep working on our goal and keep communicating. We can’t get away from our main goal of winning CIF.”
The Yellowjackets’ sign of life would come three minutes after Miguel Cabrera scored a rocket kick from 20 yards out, but the Indians’ resiliency stayed solid. Despite a late Yellowjackets’ push, the Indians held on to the tight victory and advanced to the second round.
The Indians’ next match is scheduled to be played on Tuesday against the winner between Beckman and San Juan Hills with a time still waiting to be determined.