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Prep girls soccer: Status quo

Hart maintains half-game lead over Vikes with tie

Posted: January 19, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 19, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Valencia High teammates Kirsten Uy (4) and Taylor Venegas (23) fight with Sophie Cortes (7) of Hart High at Valencia on Friday. Valencia High teammates Kirsten Uy (4) and Taylor Venegas (23) fight with Sophie Cortes (7) of Hart High at Valencia on Friday.
Valencia High teammates Kirsten Uy (4) and Taylor Venegas (23) fight with Sophie Cortes (7) of Hart High at Valencia on Friday.

Neither Valencia, nor Hart girls soccer was willing to change its attacking philosophy on Friday night at Valencia High School — and that made for a wild matchup of the top two teams in the Foothill League.

Trailing by one in the 72nd minute, Hart’s Jenny Chavez took a high ball in the box and found herself one-on-one with Valencia’s Nicole Joseph before chipping the ball up and over the sophomore keeper to tie the score in an eventual 1-1 draw.

With the result, Hart (10-4-6 overall, 3-0-1 Foothill League), which entered the contest on nine-game winning streak, maintains its half-game lead over Valencia (9-1-5, 2-0-2).

“Being down against a team like Valencia, it was a wakeup call,” Chavez said. “I know how I felt — I’m not going to lose this game and my teammates felt the same way.”

For a while, though, it looked like the Indians’ might.

Valencia pressured from the beginning, reeling off 21 shots and forcing Hart keeper Daisy Hydar to make six saves on the night.

“We came out the first 20 and I thought that was our opportunity. The 20 to 25 minute mark we were on them and had them under a lot of pressure,” said Valencia head coach Sean O’Connell.

After the teams went into halftime tied 0-0, the Vikings continued to attack at the start of the first half, breaking through on a strike from 30 yards out by Eryn Spencer to give Valencia a 1-0 lead in the 41st minute.

It was an example of what Valencia has been doing all year, pressing forward and being aggressive on offense — a formula that made them a league-title favorite, along with Saugus, entering Foothill League play.

The Vikings nearly doubled their lead four minutes later, when Bailey Reid sent the ball over Hydar and hit the left post.

From there, Hart hit another gear.

The Indians weren’t afraid to match Valencia’s attack, pushing forward with midfielder Sophie Cortes sending the ball ahead to Chavez on multiple occasions.

“A lot of teams are trying to attack us on the counter and a lot of teams are playing for that set piece,” O’Connell said. “Hart was the closest team that played us all the way through.”

The Indians were relentless in their pursuit of the tying goal, scoring the equalizer on their 20th attempt of the night.

“The big thing for us is their championship character,” said Hart head coach Justin Lundin of his team. “We played hard, but as soon as we went down 1-0, I saw a side of them I haven’t seen. It comes from within. They work really hard and the harder you work, the harder it is to accept defeat.”

As a result, both teams sit where they did before the game, with Valencia looking up at Hart, but well within striking distance with six games remaining. That includes one against each other on Feb. 5 at Hart.

“This game for us was more of a wakeup call than the Saugus game (which Valencia tied 0-0),” O’Connell said. “This game was much more of an evenly played type of game. We know we need that intensity for 80 minutes in order to win a championship.”


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