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The Day After: League races may clear up soon

Girls basketball, boys soccer feature key showdowns coming up Tuesday

Posted: January 31, 2009 11:15 p.m.
Updated: February 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.
We still have two weeks left in the regular season, which means a lot could still happen in Foothill League sports.

But two of the races should become clearer this Tuesday.

In girls basketball, West Ranch shook off Canyon improved to 5-1 in league play. Saugus, meanwhile, dropped to 5-1 after falling in a shootout against Valencia.

The Wildcats will host Saugus on Tuesday and could grab the Foothill League lead with four games to go. Considering West Ranch's 1-9 record last season, it would be a remarkable achievement.

Both teams would be remiss, however, to discount Valencia, which sits at 4-2 and appears to be clicking at the right time.

In boys soccer, Canyon has been clicking throughout league play and improved to 4-1-1 with a gritty win over West Ranch.

Golden Valley, meanwhile, slipped past an improved Hart squad on Friday. The 1-0 win was a far cry from the Grizzlies' five-goal victory over the Indians in their first meeting.

This Tuesday, Golden Valley (3-1-2) will get another crack at league-leading Canyon, which beat the Grizzlies 1-0 at Golden Valley High School in mid-January.

If Valencia and Saugus could find a way to stop racking up ties - each team has four in league play - and start racking up wins, they might jump back into the race as well.

But it seems a safe bet that the winner of the Canyon-Golden Valley game will have the inside track to the Foothill League title.

In girls soccer, there's no inside track to speak of.

Canyon, Valencia and Saugus are all tied atop the league standings at 4-1-1. None of those teams play each other on Tuesday, but if Valencia manages to escape its visits to Hart and West Ranch unscathed, the Vikings get Golden Valley and Canyon on their turf to close the season.

Valencia head coach Sean O'Connell likes to say that teams don't "win" the Foothill League so much as they "survive" it. Hart is hoping he's right.

The Indians are three points behind the league leaders at 3-2-1 (soccer awards three points for a win and one for a tie) and have already lost to Saugus and Valencia. But they still have to face all three leaders one more time, and they certainly have the talent to beat them.

The Hart boys basketball team proved it had the talent to beat Golden Valley earlier this season. Friday night, the Indians proved it again.

Now that Golden Valley has suffered its first league loss, Hart is just a game back in the standings.

Coming into the season, the questions surrounding the Grizzlies concerned their ability to deliver on their preseason potential, something they couldn't do in 2007-08.

Now, the question has shifted to how they will play with the target firmly on their backs.

Valencia and West Ranch are also lurking at .500, and both gave Golden Valley all it could handle during the first half of the league slate.

If Golden Valley wins out, there's no question it deserves the Foothill League championship. That much is clear.

The title chase, however, is still somewhat blurry.


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