Some games are just bigger than others. Any time Canyon Crest and Torrey Pines meet on the soccer pitch it would qualify as one of those games. The first of two Avocado West League meetings between the boys’ and girls’ teams of the two neighboring schools was Thursday night and you can count it as a combined victory for Canyon Crest.
If it were appropriate, oddsmakers would have almost certainly made Canyon Crest the underdog in both matches. So much for prognostication. The CCA and Torrey Pines girls played to a scoreless draw.
Coach Matt Favor’s Raven girls, who came into Thursday’s contest at the bottom of the Avo West table, seem to have re-discovered their mojo, adding to a Tuesday victory over Mission Hills with a scoreless draw.
“It’s always big to get a result against one of your rivals,” said CCA Head Coach Matt Favor, whose school has never defeated Torrey Pines in girls’ soccer. “We came in with the right attitude, our organization and communication were good—we deserved at least a tie.
”Torrey Pines, ranked fourth in the latest section poll, has been unyielding in the back third but been able to score in just once in its four league games. Head Coach Martyn Hansford preferred to accentuate the positive while acknowledging his squad has some tweaking to do.
“We kept a clean sheet and our defense continues to be very solid,” said Hansford. “Offense has been more of an issue but if you’re going to win titles, you’ve got to stop the other team—1-0 would have been a good result, we would take that every week.
“That said, we need to start putting multiple goals on the scoreboard to keep us above some of the quirks that can happen in any game. It’s a little frustrating at the moment but I don’t think we’re millions of miles away from where we need to be. For me, I think we need to just take a little better care of the ball, do the little things and be a more ruthless in front of the goal—take care of our opportunities.”
The outcome of the boys’ clash between No. 1-ranked Torrey Pines and an unranked and perhaps under-rated Canyon Crest, caused a few more waves. The two teams entered the night tied for first place in league play and over the next 80 minutes it was hard to believe the visiting Ravens were not the side at the top of the polls.
Playing an aggressive, physical brand of soccer on both ends of the fog-shrouded field, CCA bottled-up the league’s highest-scoring team and came away with a well-earned, 2-0, decision.
Sixteen minutes into the game, speedy junior Rafael Panero ren got free along the end line right of the Torrey goal and put CCA ahead by rifling a sharp-angled shot that beat the Falcon’s standout goalkeeper Nick Bello to the short side and went into the far side netting.
Late in the second half, off a thrown-in, senior Cole Wojtkowski headed a ball through a maze of players along the goal line that went in off a TP defender, essentially icing the verdict. Needless to say, veteran CCA Head Coach Tom Lockhart was pleased with what his club delivered.
“Absolutely,” said Lockhart when asked afterward if this was his club’s biggest win of the season. “When we play Torrey Pines, there’s always a lot of emotion in the game—we had a game plan, we executed it and that showed in the result tonight.
“Our guys were committed to every single play, committed to their teammates—the kind of commitment that we haven’t seen consistently in other games.”
The Ravens senior defender Jesse Yu was all smiles on the field afterwards. “We played with our hearts, stayed focused and intense throughout and won all the 50-50’s,” he said. “I have a bunch of friends on the Torrey Pines team so it feels nice to beat them and even better that it was a shutout.”
It was the Ravens’ first victory over their local rival since 2017 and lifts them into sole possession of first place in the Avocado West, three points ahead of two-time defending league champ Torrey Pines. Added to an earlier triumph over San Pasqual, they now have wins over two of the county’s three top-ranked teams.
For Andy Hargreaves, the four-time CIF championship-winning coach at Torrey Pines, it was a difficult evening. Although it never surfaced in his postgame comments, his Falcons were playing without the services of no less than five starters. While that clearly didn’t help their cause, the group that took the field has been exceptional on its own and had no excuses.
“We played poorly, didn’t create a lot of chances and were second to every ball,” lamented Hargreaves. Except for the final whistle, there weren’t a lot of positives.
“CCA is very athletic and tonight was all about that athleticism, speed and getting to the ball—they won those aspects 100%.
”A bit uncharacteristically, Hargreaves predicted his charges would turn things around in a hurry. “We’re going to push through this and win every game,” he said. “We have recovering players coming in and I expect us to come back with a vengeance.”
The Canyon Crest-Torrey Pines tussles were just two in a slate of crazy Avocado West results this past week that have thrown the league’s two divisions into a state of disarray. Good luck trying to predict what’s going to transpire over the final three weeks.
On the girls’ side, No. 2-ranked defending CIF Open champion Carlsbad was routed, 6-1, at La Costa Canyon Tuesday and instead of bouncing back strong, followed it up with a 1-1 home draw against Mission Hills. All six teams are currently within three points of each other.
In boys’ action, Carlsbad, under first-year Head Coach Sean Gurley, figured to prospectively repeat last season’s bottom of the ladder finish, knicked LCC 1-0 at home and made it two straight by beating Mission Hills, 2-1, on the road. They are tied for third with San Marcos which, along with CCA, is one of two teams that have not lost a match.
Favor probably spoke for all coaches of both genders when he surveyed what has happened over the first two weeks of Avocado West encounters.
“It just re-emphasizes how tough this league is and that on any given day, any one of these teams can emerge victorious, no matter who they’re playing,” said Favor. “It’s exciting. Everybody’s in it, every game counts for both opponents and there are no pushovers. I know there’s a lot of exciting soccer being played in Carmel Valley.”
Avocado West Boys’ Soccer Standings
1. Canyon Crest 3-0-1.
2. Torrey Pines 2-1-1
3. Carlsbad 2-2-0
San Marcos 1-0-3
5. Mission Hills 1-2-1
6. La Costa Canyon 0-3-1
Avocado West Girls’ Soccer Standings
1. La Costa Canyon 2-1-1
3. Torrey Pines 1-1-2
Mission Hills 1-1-2
5. San Marcos 1-2-1
Canyon Crest 1-2-1