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The Day After: Canyon boys soccer clinches crown

Tie between Saugus, Golden Valley gives Cowboys Foothill League title

Posted: February 8, 2009 1:59 a.m.
Updated: February 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.
The Foothill League has its first winter champion.

Canyon boys soccer clinched the 2008-09 league championship Saturday, and the Cowboys didn't even have to play.

Golden Valley tied Saugus 1-1 on Saturday, and by virtue of that tie, Canyon earned the league title.

The Cowboys are 6-1-1 in league play, and under soccer's system of awarding three points for a win and one for a draw, Canyon has 19 total points.

The Grizzlies are 3-2-3, and they can only earn a maximum of 18 points with two more victories. All other teams are mathematically eliminated as well.

"To be quite honest with you, I'm kind of shocked," said Canyon head coach Khris Savage. "We didn't beat anybody by more than a goal. Our game plan was to not make any silly errors and get goals where
we can."

Canyon did just that, and now the Cowboys have a Foothill League title to show for it.

It's a group that Savage hardened with a tough schedule in the preseason, and the battles have forged a special bond with the group.

"Sometimes you have strong feelings, and I trained this group of kids all along to never give up and never settle," Savage said. "Even if it's a 1-0 victory, it's still a win. Our captains, Shaun McLaughlin and Andrew Wilson, did a great job of keeping the kids focused this year."

Canyon will have Senior Day on Thursday when it hosts Valencia in the season finale, and it figures to be a joyous scene.

There may not be any suspense left in boys soccer, but the stage is set for exciting finishes in girls soccer and boys and girls basketball.

More importantly, David Stroud had the stage Friday night at Valencia High School.

Stroud, who is on the road to recovery after being diagnosed with cancer last April, started for Valencia against West Ranch. Thanks to an agreement between the two schools, the Wildcats scored an uncontested basket and allowed Stroud to hit a layup for his team's first points.

That moment - which is far bigger than any sporting event - gave Valencia a wealth of emotion, which it used to defeat West Ranch and pull even with the Wildcats in the league standings.

Valencia faces a stiff task in traveling to league-leading Golden Valley on Tuesday but also plays last-place Canyon to end the season.

West Ranch, meanwhile, will play second-place Hart before finishing against Golden Valley, so if the Wildcats make the playoffs, they will have earned it in the last week.

Since the Grizzlies and Indians both held serve by winning their games Friday, the league title is still Golden Valley's to win or lose.

The same is true for Saugus in girls basketball, as the Centurions improved to 7-1 in the Foothill League by blowing out Golden Valley by 50 points on Friday. With two home games left before the playoffs, Saugus is in good shape.

Valencia, however, is ready to grab a share of the title should Saugus slip up. The Vikings defeated West Ranch Friday to improve to 6-2 in league and gain the inside track to the No. 2 spot with a pair of road games left.

One of those games is against Canyon, which improved its league record to 4-4 by defeating Hart Friday. Canyon is nipping at the heels of 5-3 West Ranch, but the Wildcats close the season by facing Hart and Golden Valley, which are at the bottom of the standings.

While girls basketball will include a lot of scoreboard-watching this week, the girls soccer race is laden with showdowns.

Valencia, Saugus and Canyon all won on Friday, and all three are 6-1-1 in league play heading into the final week of the season.

Canyon's Foothill League destiny is in its own hands, as the Cowboys host Saugus Tuesday and then travel to Valencia Thursday.

Saugus, meanwhile, will close the season with a dangerous game against Hart, which has enough talent to knock off the Centurions if the team isn't ready.

Valencia may have the lightest path to the league title. While Canyon and Saugus do battle on Tuesday, the Vikings will play last-place Golden Valley before hosting Canyon on Thursday.

Of course, shared titles are a possibility in all three sports, but there's already a lone champion in one sport.

We may have three more by week's end.


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