By Ryan Menzie
Signal Sports Writer
When you are considered the best team in the league, naturally you have a target on your back and have every team coming out and playing their best against you. The Hart Indians girls soccer players are no strangers to this feeling, with the Valencia Vikings having their number Thursday afternoon.
The Vikings (8-3-3, 6-3-3) squeaked a narrow but hard-fought victory against the Indians (8-2-1, 8-1-2) in a 1-0 match. The Indians still hold the top spot in the Foothill League as the teams get ready for the playoffs.
“Everybody brings out their best when they play against Hart,” said Indians’ head coach Brett Croft. “We had two really good chances in the first half but we didn’t put them away. Soccer can be brutal because you can feel like you’re the best team, but one incredible moment can be the answer for the game. Credit to Jackie (Victorio) for the incredible goal.”
As the score shows, the game started off aggravating with the wind chill making each physical contact with the players much more painful.
The Indians outshot the Vikings heavily in the first half, including four shots at the goal in just the first 15 minutes of the game. The Indians were unable to capitalize.
With no score, it was anybody’s game heading into the second half. Luckily for the Vikings, Jackie Victorio would provide the only score of the game with a beautiful left-footed shot at the 25-minute mark from just over 20 yards away.
“Hart had been the league champions for many years, so finally getting to beat them is very exciting,” said Victorio. “We knew how important this game was and we came out wanting to beat them. The defense came in quick, but once I saw the opening, I took my shot. It was great seeing it go in.”
The game would remain choppy for the final 25 minutes and Croft had to go deep into his lineup to pick up the aggression. The Indians would go three back to provide more of an offensive threat, but the Vikings defense remained sturdy.
Aggravation loomed on the Indians’ sidelines, but to the Vikings’ credit they remained as a unit inside the box and played with proper clock management. The Vikings could do no wrong, and that is exactly what they needed to pull off the huge Foothill League win.
“They did everything we could have asked for,” said Vikings’ head coach Brian Miller. “You have to be at your absolute best to beat Hart this year. What a tremendous team they have. We had to match them on every inch on this pitch, and that’s exactly what we did. They showed they wanted to win and it showed that any team can beat any team.”