Golden Valley Grizzlies boys’ soccer knew it’d have its hands full with the Canyon Cowboys on Thursday.
The Grizzlies held the fast-paced Cowboy attack scoreless for the first time this season, en route to a 1-0 Foothill League win for Golden Valley at home.
Golden Valley (5-4-3, 2-1) had its chance late in the first half and capitalized. Senior Will Flint led the counter attack with an 80-yard run down the field. Flint managed to evade a pair of Canyon defenders before laying off the ball to Leon Mikailian for the score.
The Cowboys nearly answered minutes later as senior forward Jacob Bertran just missed a left-footed shot.
Bertran, Gabriel Roque and Marcus Toney are three of the most efficient offensive players in the Foothill League and all play for Canyon. Grizzlies head coach Stephen Evison worked with his team all week with one-on-one and two-on-two defensive drills to prepare for the lethal duo.
“Canyon’s lethal up top and in my opinion has the best three players in the league on top,” Evison said in a phone interview. “Our defense played lights out. I can’t put into words how well they played. Gelbert (Sandoval) was the last line of defense and got another shutout. He’s been a monster and has been killing this year.”
The Grizzlies awarded most of the midfield to the Cowboys attack, allowing the Golden Valley backline to stay low and not get blown by. Evison praised his defenders Jovany Sosa, Cesar Renteria and Kanisorn Sutinatikul for their aggressiveness and composure against the Canyon attack.
The Cowboys came out with a hot attack at the start of both halves but possession slowly turned into Golden Valley’s favor after each fast start. The Cowboys were a little less organized in the second half, which ultimately led to their 1-0 defeat.
Evison was pleased with his team’s ability to stick to the game plan and not stray against a tough league opponent.
“I think our players are starting to buy into a role where they’re going to do this together,” Evison said. “They’re going to follow the game scripts and follow the style of the games. Whatever the style is, we’re gonna go for it.”
Canyon will head into tournament play over the winter break before heading back into league action. Golden Valley on the other hand will be off until the new year, as the squad has been busier than every other team, playing in 12 matches already.
Both teams return to the pitch on Tuesday, Jan. 2, as Golden Valley hosts Saugus at 3:15 p.m. and Canyon heads to Valencia at 5 p.m.