Golden Valley Grizzlies boys’ soccer had itself a day on Tuesday with several program achievements.
The Grizzlies defeated La Serna in their Division 5 wildcard playoff matchup to mark the program’s first postseason win, first five-game win streak and the first playoff win for third-year head coach Stephen Evison.
Golden Valley won the game, 5-2, behind a hat trick from senior Christian Hernandez and a two-goal day from Will Flint. “We set the tone early and scored three goals in the first 20 minutes,” Evison said in a phone interview. “The message to the boys was, ‘We’re gonna be the aggressor.’”
Junior Alex Risdon registered two assists in the win, one to Flint and one to Hernandez off a corner kick.
Flint’s second goal came off an assist from senior Jimmy Lozano.
The Grizzlies (11-6-5) controlled the game throughout the contest. Golden Valley has strong forwards with solid play in the midfield and backline. However, Evison believes the team’s change in demeanor has led to the win streak.
“A total change in mindset,” Evison said. “In December, I was begging guys to just get along with each other. I told them, ‘You guys are too good to waste this opportunity.’ Some of the people that were half in, half out, really dove in. All the seniors didn’t want to end it like this and everyone is cohesive now.”
Golden Valley now advances in the Division 5 bracket and will head to the Ocean League champion Leuzinger (14-5-3).
“It’s so weird, Golden Valley is used to going back to their club teams by now,” Evison said. “We’re dealing with a little bit of burnout but we’re motivated to see how far we can go. Every time we step out and train, there’s a ton of energy. The only experience we have is a playoff loss last year, so now we’re going into uncharted territories.”
The newfound Grizzlies will look to extend their win streak and season on Thursday when the team heads to Lawndale to take on the Leuzinger Olympians with a game time yet to be determined.
“I’m just looking for the boys to stay explosive and stay engaged in games,” Evison said. “If we stay engaged for a full 80 minutes as one unit, no one’s going to beat us.”