When the St. Francis High and Crescenta Valley boys' soccer teams take to the field for their respective CIF Southern Section division home matches today, they will do so facing opponents whom they eliminated from the playoffs last year.
St. Francis Coach Glen Appels and Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark haven't lost sight of that and have reminded their players about the added incentive their opponents will have.
St. Francis (8-8-8) will meet Ventura (20-0-7) in a Division I match and third-seeded Crescenta Valley (17-0-6) will take on Diamond Bar (11-9-2) in a Division IV contest. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
"I'm sure Ventura wants payback," said Appels, whose team posted a 2-0 win against fourth-seeded Ventura on the road in a second-round match last season. "You know going in that there will be no easy path and you are always going to get a good team in this division.
"It should be a good match. We want to eliminate some of the mistakes that we made in our first [playoff] game, but the positives are that we scored four goals in the second half. Ventura has an outstanding offensive attack. It's just a matter of us being able to play good defense and which team will finish its chances."
The Golden Knights, who won three CIF championships between 1996-2003 under Appels, began the playoffs Thursday with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory against host Upland. St. Francis, which finished third in the Mission League, scored four second-half goals to eliminate an Upland squad that won the Baseline League championship.
Brookes Treidler scored the winning goal with about five minutes remaining for the Golden Knights, who trailed, 2-0, at halftime.
Ventura, which finished first in the Channel League, began its playoff run Thursday with a 4-2 home victory against Agoura.
The winner will meet fourth-seeded San Clemente or Long Beach Poly in a quarterfinal match Thursday.
Crescenta Valley, fresh off winning its third Pacific League championship in a row, also rallied from a 2-0 halftime deficit to post a 3-2 sudden-death victory against visiting Laguna Beach on Thursday. Pavle Atanackovic recorded a hat trick, including the winning goal three minutes into overtime.
The Falcons figure to get another tough test from Diamond Bar. The teams met in the first round of the playoffs last season with Crescenta Valley picking up a 3-2 overtime win.
Crescenta Valley first-year Coach Grant Clark said Diamond Bar, which won the Hacienda League crown, is similar to the Falcons.
"They have a lot of seniors like us and both teams were good last year," Clark said. "We are expecting a dogfight, especially because we beat them last year and they want to try to beat us.
"You want that, especially in the playoffs. We want to take as much from [the Laguna Beach game as we can]. Our guys know that we needed to be prepared from the beginning of the game."
The winner will face Salesian or Sierra Vista in a quarterfinal contest Thursday.