Valencia soccer beats Pasadena in wildcard battle 

Valencia midfielder Jordan Cardenas (18) scores a penalty kick in the first half of a Foothill league match at West Ranch High School on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. Valencia won 3-1. Chris Torres/The Signal

Valencia Vikings boys’ soccer advanced in the Division 3 playoffs on Tuesday after a road win over the Pasadena Bulldogs. 

Valencia set the tone immediately en route to its 2-1 win. Maddox Neville struck early in the game off a corner kick from Jordan Cardenas. Vikings striker Azael Jovel made it 2-0 just before the half, allowing his team to go into a more defensive formation. 

The Vikings (7-7-4) knew what was on the line and played a defensively sound second half, gifting first-year head coach Jose Villafan his first career postseason win. 

“We went into defensive formation and really frustrated the flow of the game for the opponent,” Villafan said in a phone interview. “That was probably the best team we’ve played all year. It was a huge win.”  

Valencia’s defense constantly disrupted the Bulldogs (12-9-2) in a wild finish for Pasadena. The Dogs managed to score in the final minutes of play but Pasadena received two red cards just before the final whistle blew. 

The Vikings now advance in the bracket and will make nearly the same trip out east to face the Sierra Vista Dons (17-1-3) of Baldwin Park. 

The Dons are on a nine-game win streak and have given up just two goals in that span. 

Villafan believes if his team can keep up its high level of play and togetherness that Valencia will be in any game. 

“I wasn’t surprised because they’ve done it before and now they’ve shown they can be consistent,” Villafan said. “I’m hoping the boys can continue to show the level of play they did yesterday and hopefully we can make a decent run.” 

Valencia heads to Baldwin Park to take on Sierra Vista on Thursday at 5 p.m. 

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