Crescenta Valley boys' soccer begins road to repeat

After winning a CIF Southern Section Division IV championship last season for the first time, the members of the Crescenta Valley High boys’ soccer team will look for another first this postseason — winning a Division III title.

Crescenta Valley, along with Flintridge Prep, St. Francis and Glendale, were selected to participate in the postseason after the CIF office unveiled its playoff pairings Monday.

Crescenta Valley, which finished second in the Pacific League after winning it the previous three seasons, will begin its playoff journey at 5 p.m. Friday with a road match against Placentia Valencia. Crescenta Valley went 20-3-7 in the regular season. Valencia, which finished second in the Empire League, is 15-5-5.

“I don’t know anything about [Placentia Valencia], but I know for us to be successful, we have to play with each other,” Crescenta Valley Coach Grant Clark said. “If we can all get on the same page, then we will be a tough team to beat.

“If we play individual soccer, then it won’t be a long playoff run. The Pacific League was a lot tougher this year. I’m a little disappointed that we are starting out on the road. If we win, then the chances increase that we will have a second-round home game.”

The winner of the Crescenta Valley-Placentia Valencia match will meet Century or Murrieta Valley in a second-round match Feb. 20.

Glendale, which grabbed the final automatic playoff berth after taking fourth in the Pacific League, will take part in a Division III wild-card match at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Garden Grove Pacifica.

The Nitros are 6-10-1. Pacifica is 7-9-4 after taking third in the Empire League.

Glendale first-year Coach Artur Aghasyan said the Nitros enter the postseason with some momentum following a late-season surge in which they punched their playoff ticket with a 5-0 win against cross-town rival Hoover on Thursday.

“We feel good about the way we are playing right now,” Aghasyan said. “We are getting better every day.

“We just have to worry about ourselves and play our game. That’s what we’ve been doing a lot of lately. I think we will be ready Wednesday.”

The Glendale-Pacifica winner will take on top-seeded El Rancho in a first-round road match at 5 p.m. Friday.

Flintridge Prep will travel to Firebaugh for a Division VI first-round match at 5 p.m. Friday. The Rebels are 8-8-4 after taking second in the Prep League. Firebaugh finished second in the Harbor League and is 9-6-1.

Under first-year coach AJ Yates, the Rebels enter the playoffs on an eight-match unbeaten streak (5-0-3). In that stretch, the Rebels have yielded only eight goals.

“We are not scoring a lot, but we are certainly playing great defense,” Yates said. “Things have been coming together nicely for us with this run that we’ve been on of late.

“If we can continue to play smart defensively, then we have a chance to do some good things in the playoffs.”

The winner of the Flintridge Prep-Firebaugh match will advance to take on Rubidoux or Riverside Prep in a second-round match Feb. 20.

St. Francis finished third in the ultra-competitive Mission League and will face visiting Canyon Springs, which received an at-large berth out of the Inland Valley League, in a Division I wild-card match at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Friedman Field.

St. Francis struggled down the stretch in the regular season, losing four matches in a row before finishing with a 3-0 league win against Chaminade. The Golden Knights are 7-10-5. Canyon Springs (8-8-5) finished fifth in the Inland Valley League.

St. Francis Coach Glen Appels said it’s the first time the Golden Knights will participate in a wild-card match since he took over the program in 1989.

“We are a little surprised to be playing in a wild-card game,” Appels said. “Usually, those games are between teams that get an at-large entry and finish fourth in league.

“We hope to keep things going from the Chaminade game. We like our chances Wednesday being at home. Plus, it’s a chance to gain a little more momentum.”

The winner will face fourth-seeded Palos Verdes in a first-round match at 5 p.m. Friday at Palos Verdes, which won the Bay League championship.

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