Despite numerous chances on both sides of the field, Valencia Vikings boys’ soccer ended Tuesday’s home league match with the Canyon Cowboys in a draw.
Valencia and Canyon both had excellent chances at a go-ahead goal but the Foothill League match ended with just a 1-1 score.
After Canyon won the possession battle in the first half, Valencia returned the favor in the second and quickly found its equalizer.
The Vikings’ play of the game started with sophomore midfielder Henry Sarkisyan poking the ball away from the Cowboys at midfield. The speedy sophomore found space and broke free for a 50-yard dash to the box. The midfielder fired a cross to Valencia captain Jordan Cardenas, who couldn’t get the cleanest shot off initially but controlled the ball well enough to rocket in the equalizer.
The Vikings owned the first 10 minutes of the game before the Cowboys took over. Valencia junior Diego Jovel had a chance at the game’s opening goal but his shot in the fifth minute went off the crossbar. Andres Alonzo also just missed the post on his shot shortly after controlling the cross from Sarkisyan.
Canyon started repeatedly threatening and it looked imminent that a goal was coming.
Sophomore William Candy came off the bench and drilled the game’s first goal after bodying and controlling a high pass from Mason Ortiz.
The goal was the only score on the day to get past Vikes sophomore keeper Gary Williamson.
“(Williamson) is progressively getting better,” Valencia coach Jose Villafan said. “He’s not the same goalkeeper today that he was in game one. It’s super nice to see him continually grow.”
Williamson made four saves in the draw.
“When they scored their goal, like they were literally controlling the tempo and rhythm of the game,” Villafan said. “So we made some adjustments in the second half to kind of get a little more compact and stay more organized.”
One other adjustment was to lock down Canyon’s left wing, where senior Marcus Toney has been able to drive past anyone this season.
Toney nearly drilled a game-winner after receiving a perfect pass from Candy. The Cowboys senior was able to weave through multiple Viking defenders and set up a one-on-one shot with Williamson. The Valencia keeper came up again with a huge save after deflecting the low shot on goal.
Canyon was able to thrive off the counterattack but just couldn’t find the go-ahead score. The Cowboys missed a few chances in the second half that could’ve potentially iced the game.
“They obviously were chasing a goal which also made them a little bit vulnerable to counterattacks, which we were able to do,” Canyon coach Robert Benavidez said. “We just didn’t finish them off. We had some chances, good chances, and we just didn’t bury the shots.”
Canyon has found diverse ways to score throughout the season with its lethal scorers at the top of the lineup. Even with the strong front, Benavidez still wants to see everyone on his team be ready for their moment, as Candy’s goal showed any of the Cowboys can come in and contribute.
“You never know when you’re gonna get the call,” Benavidez said. “Will came in off the bench because of an injury and put the ball in the back of the net. I think he’s been kind of pressing a little bit. He’s a sophomore and we took him up with us on the varsity level. He maybe had a little bit of doubt but I told him, ‘If I didn’t believe in you, and the coaches didn’t believe in you, you wouldn’t be with me on varsity. So, just relax, play your game.’”
Villafan was pleased with his group’s efforts in holding the Cowboys to just one goal.
“I felt that they were super dangerous on their counterattacks,” Villafan said. “They have really strong physical players but I feel that as the season has progressed, my guys are now getting used to the physicality of high school soccer. We’re such a young team but I think overall they’ve stepped into their roles.”
Foothill League soccer is just a few matches away from its second round. The league is compact this season and still anyone’s for the taking, but wins will start becoming more and more crucial.
“We’ll keep battling,” Benavidez said. “Everything’s pretty tight in this league. It’s not like in previous years where Hart or someone runs off out in front and everyone else is trying to play catch-up.”
Canyon will return home on Tuesday to host Hart while Valencia will be off until Thursday for its matchup with the Indians. Both matches are slated for 3:15 p.m.
“There’s seven matches left and they are all playoff matches for us,” Villafan said. “We want to be in the playoffs, so we have to win as many games as we possibly can. So, I think overall, we’re there. I’m really happy with them and I think we can only get better from today.”