Golden Valley Grizzly boys’ soccer erased a two-goal deficit to draw with the Valencia Vikings on Tuesday.
Both teams coincidentally have now tied for the second consecutive game and are winners of one of their last seven games.
The Grizzlies (5-5-3, 1-3-1) overcame significant pressure by the Valencia forwards, the rust of not playing for two weeks and the rain to earn the tie.
Viking senior Azael Jovel scored the opening goal of the game off an assist from Daniel Corcione. Junior Jordan Cardenas later scored the second goal assisted by Nadav Rosenbert for Valencia.
“Valencia has very electric players up top,” said Grizzlies head coach Stephen Evison. “The amount of pressure they apply can be very intimidating, but our center backs, Arya Soleimani and Alex Cardenas, really held their own.”
Golden Valley entered the second half more aggressively and it paid off. The Grizzlies took a corner kick at the 55-minute mark and junior Alex Risdon netted the first Golden Valley score of the day with a header.
Valencia (3-3-4, 2-1-2) then retook control of the game. Vikings head coach Jose Villafan aims to put his most dynamic players in favorable matchups on the field but injuries yet again plagued the team.
Five Vikings have already been lost for the season due to injury while several others will miss some time. Villafan’s team is adapting the next-man-up mentality and even some underclassmen have gotten in on the action playing in their coach’s intense system.
“We had a freshman on the team, Henry Sarkisyan, just brought up from JV and he slipped right in and fit in,” Villafan said. “Kenneth Yoo was also just brought up from JV. If the boys play with that intensity the remainder of the games, we will do really well in league.”
The Vikings slowed down the pace and made it difficult for the Grizzlies to stay in rhythm.
However, Golden Valley sophomore Will Flint tied the score with just five minutes to go.
“Our playmakers did everything they needed to do to win,” Villafan said. “We just have to finish games defensively. For us, it’s a tie that feels like a loss.”
Both scores were Flint’s and Risdon’s fourth goals of the season.
The Grizzlies and Vikings are still in good shape to make a run at a Foothill League title. Valencia will aim to get healthy while younger players steadily improve.
“I think what stands out is the ability to support each other on the field and off the field,” Villafan said. “It’s been a big culture change to push each other to be competitive. I feel like this group, especially our captains, are doing everything they can to make everyone better and that’s amazing to watch.”
Golden Valley will also hope to keep improving with solid pieces all over its roster. The Grizzlies have had an up and down season so far but have already matched their win total from last season as well as eclipsing their total goals from 2021-22.
The Grizzlies will hope to secure their second league win at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday when the team heads to West Ranch. Valencia will aim to get back in the win column in non-league play when the team hosts Palmdale on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.