A season ago, the Flintridge Prep boys’ soccer team wasn’t sure if it would qualify for the playoffs. This season, there wasn’t any suspense.
Fresh off winning its first Prep League championship since 2005, Flintridge Prep will enter the CIF Southern Section Division VI tournament brimming with confidence.
Flintridge Prep, along with La Cañada and St. Francis, will partake in the postseason after the CIF office unveiled its pairings for all seven divisions Monday.
Flintridge Prep will meet Azusa or Hawthorne Math and Science Academy in a first-round match at 3 p.m. Friday. La Cañada will play host to La Salle in a Division VI first-round match at 3 Friday.
St. Francis will be on the road for its first-round match at 3 or 5 Friday, as St. Francis will battle Paramount in Division I. The home team has the choice of a 3 or 5 starting time.
Last season, Flintridge Prep advanced to the Division VI semifinals after receiving an at-large playoff berth following a fourth-place finish in league. The Rebels did some major damage, including knocking off defending champion Monrovia in the first round.
With 10 returners, Flintridge Prep Coach AJ Yates said the Rebels (10-1-1) are confident they can make another deep postseason run.
“They have a very good understanding of what it takes to win in the playoffs,” said Yates, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Soccer Coach of the Year. “We played with confidence in those games last year and we think we can carry that over after playing well in league this year.
“We have a good sense in what we need to do and we’ll be competitive again.
Azusa (8-8-3) finished third in the Montview League and Hawthorne Math and Science Academy (8-3-1) took fourth in the Coastal League. The teams will meet in a wild-card match Wednesday.
The winner of the Flintridge Prep match will face Mary Star of the Sea or Hacienda Heights Wilson in a second-round match Feb. 22.
La Cañada reached the semifinals in 2015 and the quarterfinals last season.
The Spartans, who won their first Rio Hondo League championship since 2012, will look for another long postseason journey under first-year coach Bruno Costa.
La Cañada (10-4-6) will face La Salle (12-11-1) for the third time this season. La Cañada picked up a 1-0 nonleague road win Dec. 23. The Spartans then posted a 5-0 victory against the Lancers, who tied for first in the Camino Real League with Mary Star of the Sea, in a pool-play match of the Crescenta Valley High Tournament on Dec. 27.
The Spartans have since gone 7-3-5, including a run of 7-0-3 in league.
“I feel OK playing La Salle a third time,” Costa said. “We’ve had success against them, but we know they have a good team.
“Our guys are playing with confidence right now. We’d really like to go as far as we can.”
St. Francis will make a return trip to the postseason under coach Glen Appels following a fourth-place finish in the Mission League. The Golden Knights (10-7-4) will make their 26th playoff appearance in the last 28 seasons.
St. Francis will have a difficult matchup against Paramount (17-4-2). Paramount captured the San Gabriel Valley League championship and has been one of the elite programs for the duration of the decade.
After missing the playoffs in 2014, St. Francis fell in the first round to Corona in 2015 and defeated Edison in the opening round last season before losing to Warren.
The St. Francis-Paramount winner will take on Sunny Hills or San Clemente in the second round.