Yorba Linda (Bye): Of all the matches to pick, this one is the one that I am most comfortable with. The top-seeded Mustangs were given a bye and will advance to the second round.
Winner: Yorba Linda
Cypress at Righetti: The Centurions were in the drivers set for a potential league title, but dropped 2-1 decisions to Yorba Linda and Pacifica to finish third behind those schools respectively. Cypress ended the season with an impressive 4-3 overtime win over CIF-bound Valencia in a match that they trailed 3-1 at halftime. Righetti was the PAC-7 League champion, winning 11 of 12 matches. The teams share Yorba Linda as a common opponent, as the Warriors lost to the Mustangs in the Soccer With Hope Tournament in December. Though losing out on the league title was disappointing, coming back in their final league match should give the Centurions a boost of confidence to be able to overcome a deficit in a big match and I’ll go with them to win on the road.
Los Altos at Pacifica: The Conquerors were third in a Hacienda League race that saw three teams post nine or more wins. They are led by freshman Aleena Garcia and junior Samantha Verduzco, who combined for 28 goals this season. The Mariners were moments away from the Empire League title before tying Yorba Linda in the regular season finale and losing out on the league title by one point. Pacifica’s unbeaten streak stands at seven straight, during which time they have allowed two goals. Could be a classic offense vs. defense battle here, but my pick is the defense of Pacifica to help get the win.
Western at Diamond Bar: The Pioneers earned an at-large berth into the playoffs, finishing the season with a 10-7-4 overall record. Western was unbeaten in two of its final three regular season matches. The Brahmas won the Hacienda League, going unbeaten in 12 matches (11-0-1). Diamond Bar earned the fifth overall seed in the Division and were unbeaten at home. The Pioneers have had a wonderful season and earning a playoff berth is a big accomplishment for them. I expect a tough match, but a victory from the Brahmas.
Winner: Diamond Bar
Valencia at Pasadena Poly: The Tigers were not headed in the right direction at the end of the regular season, losing their final three matches and falling under .500 in league play. They will look to regroup with a road match against the Panthers, but that will be a difficult task. Pasadena Poly was the Prep League champion and didn’t lose a league match going 9-0-1. They closed league by winning their final six matches by a combined score of 27-1. The Panthers are also unbeaten at home this season. Valencia’s offense should keep them in this match, but I’ll take the Panthers to get the victory and advance.
Winner: Pasadena Poly