The best season in program history for Valencia Vikings boys’ lacrosse will continue after a CIF Southern Section Division 3 home playoff win over the Northwood Timberwolves on Thursday.
The team played great en route to the 9-8 win, but coach Julian Lewis gives all the glory to his star goalie, Daniel Acosta.
“That was kind of crazy,” Lewis said. “Honestly, our defense has been working, but today is all about our goalie, the kid was lights out. Inside, outside and midrange, he made saves he shouldn’t be making. He was all over. So, hats off to him because he really won us this game.”
Acosta was lights out and came up with 24 saves, with several coming in a huge fourth-quarter defensive stand by the Vikings. Valencia held the Timberwolves scoreless for nearly nine minutes to start the final period of play.
“My mindset is always just to play for my team,” Acosta said. “They’re always my motivation. As a goalie, you’re plan B through Z. When your defense fails, you’re all that’s left. That feeling is what really pushes me to be there for my team and just be the rock that they need.”
The score was tied at 6-6 after three back-and-forth quarters before Vikings junior Alec Le Baut hit a smooth underhand shot just before the third-quarter buzzer. Valencia stormed out of the quarter break with a relentless attack. Senior Tyler Valdespino won another faceoff quickly and hit Nathan Lord for the quick one-two goal.
Max Stroh scored on the next play after a long possession to take a 9-6 lead.
Stroh, Jaydon Gaultney and Luke Huey all had two goals for the Vikings.
The Wolves fought their way back in with two goals within a two-minute span, but Acosta and the Viking defense came up with stop after stop to clinch the program’s first CIF postseason win in six years, when Lewis played for Valencia.
Northwood was held to just eight goals after scoring a combined 38 in its two previous games, a testament to the Viking’s defense.
“We just have good chemistry,” Acosta said. “Our defense, we’re all brothers on the field. That’s all it is.”
Ryan Kesler and Ali Khan led the Wolves with two goals apiece.
Valencia’s historic season now has a playoff win to add to the accolades, but the team may just be getting started.
“We made it to the playoffs, and not only that, we capped it off with our best season ever as far as wins,” Lewis said. “So honestly, I’m still on cloud nine because nobody really expected anything from us this season. As a coaching staff, all we have is our guys. So, we’re going to do everything we can for our guys and get them ready. They’ve taken it upon themselves to take that next step and get better and the results are showing now.”
The Vikings are now winners of four of their last five and will look to continue their hot streak on the road at Chaminade.
Valencia will need to knock off the fourth-seeded Eagles, but the confidence of playing bigger teams has yet to be an issue for the Vikes.
“I don’t think confidence was really a question for us today because we’ve been working since August,” Lewis said. “So, after months and months of preparation, training, and having a pretty successful season, we earned our playoff spot. So, we talked about it last night at practice. I don’t think anybody really had any feelings of self-doubt or anything or no confidence. Really, it was just, ‘Let’s come out here prepared, focused, execute, and get a W.’”
Valencia heads to Chaminade for their CIF Division 3 second-round matchup with the Eagles on Saturday at 3:15 p.m.