Hart boys claim sixth consecutive league title

Hart senior Juan Renteria (2) puts in a cross before Castaic's Justin Warman (6), Alexis Silva (12) and Gabe Sanchez (14) can block it during Tuesday's Foothill League matchup at Hart High School. Tyler Wainfeld/The Signal
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Indians defeat Castaic 5-0, win the Foothill League for the 18th time 

Six consecutive Foothill League titles. In total, the number is now 18. 

That’s what Hart High School boys’ soccer accomplished on Tuesday when the Indians (15-1-1, 8-0-1) beat the Castaic Coyotes (3-9-2, 1-6-2) at home, 5-0, and Hart head coach Gio Salinas couldn’t have been happier to continue what he called a dynasty. 

“It is a dynasty,” said Salinas, who has been in charge of the last three title-winning teams. “I think this is the one of the best programs in the city, one of the best programs in the state, and I think we’re always here to compete. And that’s why the boys, this season, we won league with three games left.” 

Hart senior Trenton Rickard scored two goals, bringing his total to 11 in league play and 16 overall. He opened the scoring with just over 22 minutes to play in the first half before grabbing his second to make it 3-0 in the second half. 

Hart senior Trenton Rickard plays a pass upfield during Tuesday’s Foothill League matchup at Hart High School. Tyler Wainfeld/The Signal

Rickard was happy to lead his team once again to victory, though he knows that without the rest of his teammates, none of this would be possible. 

“I definitely do want to do my part, but it’s a team sport, and if someone else does it, it’s great,” Rickard said. “Really what matters is the result. It doesn’t matter who’s doing it, but it’s my role as a striker to try to score.” 

There were a few times where Rickard looked like he would be celebrating a third time, but Castaic junior goalkeeper Marcus Roberts was immense, recording nine saves. Some of those were denials of clear chances, including a double save in the first half that had the Hart bench in disbelief. 

“I just kind of choked on a few of them, but he had two or three really good saves, so respect to him,” Rickard said. 

The win was a total team effort for the Indians. Hart senior Marcos Flores made it 2-0 with 7:30 to go in the first half before Rickard made it 3-0 to start the second half. Senior Andy Juarez made it 4-0 with 33:40 to go in the second half and then senior Noah Morgan finished things off with Hart’s fifth strike of the game just before the final whistle. 

Castaic goalkeeper Marcus Roberts (green shirt) comes out of goal to deny a shot from Hart senior Nicholas Robb during Tuesday’s Foothill League matchup at Hart High School. Tyler Wainfeld/The Signal

Salinas was happy to see Morgan, who normally plays on defense but got a chance to play up front late in Tuesday’s game, get a goal. Morgan was one of many Hart substitutes to come in the second half as Salinas emptied his bench in an effort to make sure everyone would get a chance to play. 

“There’s a reason why they’re here on varsity,” Salinas said. “Especially when we have 100-plus kids trying out, and only 60 players make into a program, if you make it to varsity, there’s a reason. And that’s why for games like this, it’s a good time for them to get some playing time, get the experience, because everybody makes an impact on this team and you never know. In CIF, you need that certain type of player profile that fits to win the game.” 

Salinas had nothing but praise for the Coyotes, who, despite the scoreline, gave the Indians fits throughout. The Indians had trouble opening up the Castaic defense in the first half, prompting Salinas to switch formations to try to unlock something. 

“Huge respect to Castaic. They played the way that we play, which was kind of like a mirror of how we play defensively. It was a huge difference compared to the first time we played where they were more waiting in the back, and this time, they were trying to go up against us, not being afraid of going up against a team that’s in first place.” 

Castaic sophomore Ronnie Castruita (7) tries to dribble past Hart seniors Trenton Rickard (17) and Ryan Nguyen (63) during Tuesday’s Foothill League matchup at Hart High School. Tyler Wainfeld/The Signal

It ended up working as Hart scored soon after the switch, and those in-game tactical switches, while not always necessary, are something that Salinas will hope to lean on as the Indians progress into the postseason. 

“We have a flux of players that could play different positions, and I feel like that’s why this team could play multiple formations,” Salinas said. “And that’s what we’ve been doing throughout the whole season. Saugus has their playing style, Valencia has their playing style, Canyon has their playing style, and as a coach, I have to adjust, analyze the game. What’s going on? What’s the strength of the opponent and what’s the weakness, and adjust.” 

Castaic will host Canyon on Thursday and travel to Saugus this coming Tuesday before finishing off the regular season with a road game next Thursday at West Ranch. 

Castaic senior Imudia Aimiuwu (25) controls the ball before it goes out of bounds in front of Hart senior Garrett Carillo (31) during Tuesday’s Foothill League matchup at Hart High School. Tyler Wainfeld/The Signal

Hart will look to finish off its league campaign unbeaten. The Indians have West Ranch on the road on Thursday at 3:15 p.m. before hosting Canyon on Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. They finish off the season at Valencia on Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. 

Salinas will be hoping to get through the rest of the season unscathed and, with some luck, the Indians are looking like real contenders to finally capture the program’s first CIF title. 

“Right now my goal is to continue — even though we won league — continue winning all our games so we get a higher seed,” Salinas said. “In CIF, it’s a different world. So, we’re hoping that we can make it far. I think we have the group of boys that believe in the same common goal, and I think it could happen. But again, just take it a game at a time.” 

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