Valencia Vikings boys’ lacrosse set a new program record for goals in a Foothill League game after a 16-9 win over the hosting Hart Indians.
Valencia (5-3, 2-1) had two 3-0 runs including one to start the game and held off Hart’s pushes for 48 minutes. The Vikings closed as well as they started and held the Indians (4-4, 1-3) to one goal in the final quarter.
Senior Ryan Knight led Valencia with a game-high five goals, while Nathan Lord just followed with four goals. Lord has been with the program since his freshman season and is proud of how the team is shaping up.
“We’ve been building it this year, more than ever,” Lord said. “Last year we didn’t do too well but this year, we’re really pushing it and striving to get better.”
The Vikings dominated the faceoff, leading to a lopsided lead of possession. Vikings senior Tyler Valdespino won 17 of his 22 faceoffs, while also adding two assists.
Valencia has had success in the faceoff all season but goals weren’t always a result of their extra possessions.
“It was a big thing for us,” said Valencia head coach Julian Lewis. “We started the quarter, I said at the start, we got to come out on fire and we got to shoot the ball today because that’s been a struggle for us just shooting the ball, not necessarily putting the ball in the back of the net, just taking more shots. So that was a big thing for us today.”
The Vikings broke through their scoring woes on their way to the program’s best scoring output in a Foothill League game, with consistent scoring coming in all four quarters.
Hart was riding high into Wednesday’s home matchup with Valencia. The Indians scored 15 on Castaic, beat Crescenta Valley in overtime, 12-11, and just lost to West Ranch in double overtime, 11-10. First-year head coach Daniel Kim thought his team was a little stagnant to start.
“We came out a little flat today, almost like we were expecting to win,” Kim said. “You can’t do that in this game. In lacrosse, every game you have to fight and you have to earn the win.”
Lewis knew Hart was on cloud nine coming into the matchup, giving Valencia more motivation to level the playing field in league.
“We definitely came in knowing that they were feeling good, coming off hot, especially after that double OT loss to West Ranch,” Lewis said. “So, we knew they were going to be confident. They knew that we were going to be prepared to win and expected to win today so we came with the same energy. As a matter of fact, we came with even more energy because we knew they were going to be fired up. Everybody on the team made the commitment to bring it this week.”
Kim called timeout once Hart fell in a quick 3-0 hole with the simple message: Play our game.
The team responded well, and Indians junior Tate Fuller sparked the offense out of the timeout.
“We just kind of told them just to play our game,” Kim said. “That’s our message every game every week, just play our game. We saw a glimpse of that last week, taking West Ranch to double OT. We’re just having a tough time kind of streaming that consistency each week and bringing that same energy and intensity in each game.”
Fuller hit a cutting Ethan Capalad for Hart’s first score of the day. Lord answered the goal immediately to put Valencia back up by three but Fuller cut the deficit back down to two with another quick goal.
Valencia never lost its lead and went to halftime up, 8-5. The Vikings kept their foot on the gas and kept the scoring coming even with the game getting more physical. Valencia put six goals past Hart in the third quarter, while the Indians registered three.
Vikings goalkeeper Daniel Acosta allowed nine goals but was on fire in between the posts. Acosta finished the day with 12 saves, a rather routine day for the sophomore, according to Lewis.
“At this point, it’s starting to become like just another day for him,” Lewis said. “It’s getting to the point now where I’m expecting him to make a ton of saves. He’s making saves in practice all the time so we rely on our goalie to make saves and force their players in bad positions to make our lives easier, and that’s what happened. We were forcing them down the alley and taking away their strong hands on all the shots. They’re shooting soft shots at our goalie and he’s picking those up every time.”
Both teams are still in the hunt for a league crown and will be back in league action next week.
“I think we’re the best we have ever been as a team,” Lord said. “I’m really excited to see what we can do.”
Hart returns to Foothill League action on Wednesday when the team hosts Saugus at 3 p.m. The Vikings will be home on Friday to host Simi Valley at 7 p.m. but also return to league play on Wednesday when the team heads to Castaic at 3 p.m.