By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
An exciting second round of CIF Southern Section playoffs saw nearly every Foothill league head to overtime and most to penalties. Only two teams would move on as three saw their seasons end on Tuesday.
The top three boys’ teams were only separated by a point, showcasing some high-level soccer being played in the Santa Clarita Valley this season.
Saugus boys defeat Beaumont 2-1
The Centurions (15-3, 9-3) were able to outlast the Beaumont Cougars (17-4-2, 8-1-1) in overtime, scoring in the second sudden victory overtime period. Junior Dominic Varsam got the golden goal, scoring with an assist from senior Blake Fusano. Fusano also assisted on the Centurions’ first goal with a corner kick, netted by RJ Haring.
Even with the team conceding a goal in the opening minute of the game, they did not falter and played their game.
“Letting in a goal in the first minute of the game is uncharacteristic,” said Saugus head coach Seth Groller. “But in the end, I’m just so proud of my team — the way they battled back and took advantage of the chances we had.”
Saugus’ win streak is now at six games, a run that has seen the team outscoring opponents 18-4.
Saugus moves on in the Division 4 postseason to host Citrus Hill (19-1-3), a high-scoring team with plenty of playoff experience.
Hart boys eliminated by San Juan Hills
The Foothill League champion Hart (9-2-5,8-0-4) is officially out after a great season and tense matchup with the San Juan Hills Stallions (9-2-6, 4-0-4). The Division 2 game went into overtime and then penalties tied at 1-1.
Both teams netted four goals in the first round of penalty kicks, but in the second round, after San Juan Hills hit their first two, Hart missed its second, ending the Indians’ season.
The Indians’ defense stood tall all game, allowing nothing inside but a long bomb of a shot from midfield from Stallions’ forward Roman Roel would be the first goal of the game. Hart junior Trent Rickard was giving San Juan Hills’ defenders fits all game long and eventually it paid off. Rickard headed in the equalizer with 14 minutes left in regulation.
Hart will look to win its fourth consecutive league title next year with Rickard and plenty of good players returning.
“We have a good group of players that will be here in upcoming years playing varsity,” said Hart head coach Gio Salinas. “I’m just excited for the future.”
Valencia boys fall at home to Palmdale in PKs
Valencia (10-7-4, 8-2-2) would be another victim of losing in penalty kicks, 4-3, in a seemingly evenly matched Division 3 game at 1-1 with the Palmdale Falcons (12-1-5, 10-1-3).
The Vikings got started right away with senior Won Choi scoring off an assist by JC Cardenas. Palmdale was able to control possession for most of the first half and finally answer just before the halftime break.
Valencia started the second half hot again and dominated possession. The team had several shots, corners and throw-ins that were close but just could not find the back of the net.
Even though the Vikings finished third in league, they were just two points away from first place. They will retain their top two players in points and will look to 2022-23 to capture a Foothill League championship.
Hart girls advance after 2-1 win over Woodrow Wilson
The Indians (7-5-3, 4-3-1) defeated the Bruins thanks to two early second-half goals. Hart controlled the ball well in the first half.
The Indians then took control early in the second half, first on a rebound, shoot and score by Adrielle Salvador. Charlotte Curtis would extend the lead 10 minutes later. Maylen Blade had a long throw-in bounce around and wind up at the feet of Curtis, who sent it between the posts.
Woodrow Wilson was able to respond with a goal of their own but the Hart defense made a stand and shut down the Bruin attack.
“These players are high-level soccer players that are gifted technically and possess an incredibly high level of soccer IQ,” said Hart head coach Brett Croft.
The league champions recaptured their title after last season’s finish snapped a seven-year streak of domination over the Foothill League.
Hart has now won consecutive Division 2 playoff games at home with scores of 2-1 and will now face their first road challenge of the playoffs. The team will travel to play Westlake on Saturday.
West Ranch girls lose heartbreaker to Oaks Christian in PKs
The West Ranch Wildcats (12-4-2, 7-3-2) battled hard in a scoreless, second-round Division 2 matchup with the Oaks Christian Lions (16-1-4, 7-1-2). These two teams have played impressive defense all year, with Oaks Christian having a clear edge at scoring.
The visiting Lions had more length, size and some good legs on the team that kept pressure on the Wildcats. However, West Ranch’s defense met their foe everywhere, deflecting and forcing Oaks Christian into tough shots.
The Wildcats applied their fair share of pressure but also couldn’t register a goal, sending the game into PKs. Oaks Christian forced a second round of penalties, where they would win it, 1-0.
“We got to host a second-round game, which has never happened before,” said co-head coach Jared White. “So these seniors over the last two years have done some of the most amazing things of anyone that’s ever stepped on this field.”
The defending champions lost their crown this year but still had a successful season, finishing 12-2-1 after dropping their first three games.