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Crescenta Valley, St. Francis boys' soccer teams set for CIF playoff openers

Crescenta Valley, St. Francis boys' soccer teams set for CIF playoff openers
The Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team will meet visiting Ventura in a CIF Southern Section Division III first-round match at 3 p.m. Friday. (Tim Berger | Staff Photographer)

Winning the Pacific League championship for the first time since 2012 surely helped the Crescenta Valley High boys' soccer team earn the second seed in the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.

The CIF Southern Section office unveiled its playoff pairings for all seven divisions Monday with Crescenta Valley and St. Francis being the two local teams to receive postseason nods.

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While Crescenta Valley coach Grant Clark will gladly take the high seeding, Clark said there's a lot of work at hand for the surging Falcons.

"We had a great regular season and that includes winning league," said Clark, whose team will face visiting Ventura in a first-round match at 3 p.m. Friday. "Getting the No. 2 seed is a pleasure as a coach. At the same time, there's now a target on our backs heading into the playoffs.

"We pretty much have a new team, though some of the guys have playoff experience. It's a completely new dynamic for the most part, so we have to make sure we're ready at all times."

Crescenta Valley (17-4-3) went 12-0-2 in league and is 13-0-1 in its last 14 matches. The Falcons, who won a CIF championship in 2012, haven't lost since a 2-1 defeat against Valencia Valencia on Dec. 28 in a pool-play match of the Crescenta Valley Tournament.

Ventura (11-6-3) finished third in the Channel League behind Santa Barbara and San Marcos.

"Ventura is a good team and played in a hard league," Clark said.

The winner of the Crescenta Valley-Ventura match will meet California (14-6) or Claremont (11-9-2) in a second-round contest Feb. 21. California tied for second in the Del Rio League and Claremont placed second in the Palomares League.

Irvine University earned the top seed in the division.

After competing in Division I in the past, St. Francis will take a shot at Division II this season. The Golden Knights have been a playoff staple the last 30 seasons, winning three CIF titles and one Southern California Regional crown.

St. Francis (12-9-2) finished fourth in the Mission League and will travel to face Sunny Hills (16-4-5) in a first-round match Friday at a time to be determined. Sunny Hills captured the Freeway League championship.

The winner will face Hueneme (10-3-3) or Santa Maria (17-4-3) in a second-round tilt on Feb. 21. Hueneme took first in the Pacific View League and Santa Maria finished second in the Los Padres League.

Despite winning a Prep League title, Flintridge Prep was left on the outside looking in to the playoffs.

With a three-way tie for first in the four-team league, which only bestows two automatic playoff berths, between Chadwick, Firebaugh and Prep at 3-2-1, Chadwick won a tiebreaker via coin flip. The Rebels (9-7-1) then lost a play-in match on Thursday against Firebaugh, 1-0.

"We were hoping there would be some at-large spots available in the division, but there just weren't any," Flintridge Prep coach Esteban Chavez said. "We still had a good season in winning league."

Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich

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