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Valencia soccer swallows the giant

Posted: February 20, 2014 10:54 p.m.
Updated: February 20, 2014 10:54 p.m.

It was like a mixed martial arts match where Valencia kept getting pounded but the referee wouldn’t stop the fight.

It was like swimming in the ocean and a shark bit Valencia’s arm off and the Vikings could only hope they would be rescued.

It was playing with 10 guys for an hour and fighting and defending to hold a lead. And Valencia did.

These were the ways Valencia head coach Tony Scalercio described his team’s 2-1 win over perennial state powerhouse Salesian of Los Angeles in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division IV playoffs on Thursday in Los Angeles.

“They just swallowed a giant,” Scalercio said of his team.

Valencia (13-4-4) got two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game, scored by Jack Janaszek and Sean Romo, but played the last hour without Jorge Garcia Sosa, who received two yellow cards in the game.

Scalercio, fuming at the referees but still elated from victory, said his Vikings got so many yellow cards he lost count.

But Valencia fought back in the cage, got rescued by the Coast Guard and won.

“You should see my kids come on the field. They’re intimidated. They’re little. But they play together, work hard, are tactically disciplined, defend as a group and work for each other,” Scalercio said.

The game got so crazy that Valencia goalkeeper Cole Murphy had to exit the game for a short period because he got a yellow card.

The trouble was Valencia’s backup goalkeeper was Garcia Sosa and the team had to slot in a position player to weather that storm.

Santa Fe League champion Salesian, which won CIF-Southern Section division titles four times in the last decade and even more impressively won CIF State Regional titles in 2008, 2010 and 2011, smelled blood and kept going after the Vikings.

The Mustangs (9-8-1) finally broke through with a goal on a freekick in the game’s 60th minute.

But Valencia held.

Scalercio pointed out one defender who drove his defense on Thursday — senior Julian De Vita.

“He absolutely kept that defense together with dirt and spit,” Scalercio said. “He was amazing. He’s got a guy to his right who is a sophomore, a sophomore in front of him and a left midfielder, and he’s quarterbacking those guys.”

Valencia now lives to play in Tuesday’s round two and gets the winner of Artesia and Temescal Canyon.

Scalercio, who has coached 17 years at Valencia High, said this was one of those signature victories.

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