La Canada trio set for playoffs

With a trio of La Canada Flintridge boys' soccer teams earning spots in the CIF Southern Section playoffs, the road to the CIF championship begins Tuesday, but it's a road vastly different for the trio.

Flintridge Prep begins play Tuesday in a wild-card match, St. Francis takes to the road in the first round of the Division I playoffs on Thursday, while La Canada awaits an opponent that it will host in the first round.

The Spartans, fresh off winning the Rio Hondo League title, will host a Division V opener on Thursday.

La Canada (13-5-5) will play Hacienda Heights Wilson (10-9-1) out of the Valle Vista League or Malibu (11-3-2) out of theTri-ValleyLeague, as the teams play Tuesday in a wild-card match.

Should the Spartans advance past the first round, they will play Garden Grove Santiago or Mountain View on Feb. 21.

St. Francis will hit the road for its Division I first-round game against Upland (13-6-2). Upland captured the Baseline League crown.

St. Francis (7-8-8) placed third in the Mission League, seeing its bid to capture the league title fall short with a road loss against Loyola on Wednesday. The Golden Knights have quite a tradition, evidenced by their three CIF championships between 1996 and 2003 under the guidance of Coach Glen Appels.

Appels said he wasn't aware of Upland's tendencies.

"They won their league, so they must be strong," Appels said. "We knew we'd get a tough first-round draw and that's always the case in Division I.

"What's a positive for us is that we've played a lot of tough teams this season. For us, it's the matter of getting healthy because we've had some guys who were either hurt or sick."

The winner of the St. Francis-Upland contest will meet Channel League champion Ventura or Agoura, which took third in the competitive Marmonte League.

Flintridge Prep, which finished fourth in the Prep League to earn an at-large berth, will begin its playoff journey today with a Division VI wild-card match at Yucca Valley. The Rebels (7-7-1) will make the 250-mile round trip to face a Yucca Valley squad that's 4-5-4 and took third in the De Anza League.

"We knew we'd get a wild-card match," Flintridge Prep first-year Coach Mathew Bowden said. "It sounds like it will be a long trip, but we are feeling good about ourselves right now."

The Flintridge Prep-Yucca Valley winner will battle top-seeded Ontario Christian (18-3-1) in a first-round match Thursday. Ontario Christian won the Ambassador League championship.

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