The La Cañada boys soccer team is used to being the hunted in the Rio Hondo League. Now, it’s an entire division that has its sights on knocking off the Spartans.
As expected, La Cañada earned the No. 1 overall seed in the CIF-Southern Section Division V playoffs. Brackets were realeased Monday.
The Spartans finished the regular season 22-0-2 (10-0 in the Rio Hondo League) and are led seniors Cameron Meeker and Brian Blumenfeld, who tied for the team lead with 20 goals.
La Cañada will host the winner of Wednesday’s wild card round match between Paloma Valley (Sunbelt League) and Nogales (Valle Vista League) on Friday afternoon in first round action.
While the Spartans enter the postseason as the top-seeded squad, La Cañada coach Barry Riston doesn’t have a championship or bust mentality.
“Our next aim is to go further in CIF than we did last year and I think that’s a realistic expectation for this group,” said Ritson following the Spartans’ 2-1 win over Monrovia on Feb. 8. “Can we win CIF? Absolutely. Is that the aim? No. The aim is just to go further. As long as we go further, the program is headed in the right direction.”
Last year, the Spartans won two games in the playoffs before falling to Salesian in the quarterfinals.
In the Division I bracket, St. Francis (Mission League) drew a home game Friday against Thousand Oaks.
In Division IV action Pacific League champion Crescenta Valley will host a first round game Friday afternoon. The Falcons will face the winner of Wednesday’s wild card round matchup between La Salle of the Del Rey League and Diamond Bar of the Hacienda League. Muir plays at Costa Mesa (Orange Coast League) in another wild card contest.
While La Cañada received a favorable drawing in the Division V bracket, Rio Hondo League runner-up Monrovia begins the playoffs on the road at South El Monte of the Mission Valley League. South Pasadena earned the RHL’s third bid and hosts Arroyo Valley (San Andreas League) in the wild card round Wednesday.
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s first soirée in the CIF-SS Division I playoffs highlights the girls soccer brackets, which were also released Monday.
The Tologs, champions of the Mission League, host Foothill in the first round Thursday. Foothill finished the regular season with a 10-10-2 overall record and a 5-5-2 record in the Century League, good for fourth place.
The Tologs enter the playoffs with a 16-1-1 record (8-1-1 in the Mission League).
FSHA was bumped up to the top division in the Southern Section after last year’s playoff run that included a trip to the Division II semifinals and a CIF Southern California Regional Championship in Division III.
The Tologs enter the postseason riding a four-game winning streak — generating crucial momentum for what should be tough playoff path.
“We’re in Division I now playing a bunch of Orange County teams,” Breeana Koemans said following a 2-1 win over Chaminade last week. “It’s going to be a big challenge, so I think we need all the momentum and positive feelings we can get right now.”
In the Division II bracket, Pacific League champion Crescenta Valley drew a first-round home match Thursday against King (Big VIII League); Arcadia travels to Newbury Park (Marmonte League) for its first round game; and Pasadena opens at Rancho Cucamonga in Tuesday’s wild card round. The winner of that matchup will face top-seeded Palos Verdes on Thursday.
Prep League champion Flintridge Prep hosts Diamond Bar of the Hacienda League in Division III first round action. La Salle opens with a home match against Westridge (Prep League) in the Div. III wild card round for the right to play La Mirada in Thursday's first round.
Four area teams earned bids in the Division VI bracket with Rio Hondo League champion La Cañada leading the way with a home match against Santiago/GG (Garden Grove League) in Thursday's first round. Other Div. VI first round games of note: South Pasadena hosts Pomona Catholic (Freelance), Alverno hosts Loara (Golden West League), and San Marino visits Los Amigos (Garden Grove League).