Locals ready for road ahead

GLENDALE — After opening the playoffs with one-goal victories at home, the St. Francis High and Crescenta Valley boys' soccer teams will take to the road today seeking additional success in their second-round playoff tilts.

The Golden Knights and Falcons are well aware that it doesn't figure to be easy.

St. Francis will meet fourth-seeded Ventura in a CIF Southern Section Division I match, while Crescenta Valley will take on North Torrance in a Division IV match. Both contests are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.

St. Francis (14-9) picked up a 2-1 first-round home win against Thousand Oaks on Friday at Friedman Field. Senior forward Eric Verso, a former All-Area Player of the Year, scored two goals to trip up the Lancers. Verso's last goal came with two minutes remaining.

The Golden Knights will take on another team from Ventura County in Ventura, which pulled out a 3-2 home win against Fountain Valley on Friday. Ventura, which won the Channel League championship, is 19-5-2.

"They are a No. 4 seed and they won their league ahead of Santa Barbara, so those are two huge accomplishments," said St. Francis Coach Glen Appels, whose team placed second in the Mission League behind third-seeded Loyola. "They have pretty balanced scoring, so we are going to have to keep our eyes on a lot of their players.

"For us, we are healthy and we have everybody available. We were able to beat Thousand Oaks in a game where we missed some chances after we were up, 1-0. To move on, you have to be able to take advantage of those chances."

The winner of the St. Francis-Ventura match will take on Palos Verdes or San Clemente in a quarterfinal match Friday.

Crescenta Valley, fresh off winning its second Pacific League championship in a row, began its playoff journey Friday with a 3-2 overtime victory against Diamond Bar. Alex Berger scored the sudden-death overtime goal to help the Falcons advance against a North Torrance team that won the Pioneer League title before besting visiting La Mirada, 0-0 (4-2 on penalty kicks), in its opening-round match.

The Saxons are 13-4-7.

"We don't know a lot about them," Crescenta Valley Coach Kiel McClung said. "That can be good because you can focus just on yourself.

"At the same time, that can backfire on you. If you know too much, then you try to over think based on the certain scouting reports. So, we just have to focus on ourselves and work on the things that have gotten us to this point. We have played some good teams that the CIF has to offer in St. Francis, La Cañada and Knight, and we are confident going there."

The winner of the Crescenta Valley-North Torrance contest will take on second-seeded El Rancho or Hawthorne in a quarterfinal match Friday.

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