After nearly five months of high school soccer, the Southern Section season has finally come down to the divisional championship games today and Saturday.
Six Valley-area teams will play in title games at Gahr High in Cerritos.
Simi Valley (25-0-4) will play Alta Loma (19-5-4) in the 4-A championship match tonight at 8.
Simi Valley Coach Andy Silva could barely contain his enthusiasm when asked about the game. "Our kids are very confident," he said. "If we play like we did against Thousand Oaks, there's no doubt we'll win it."
Simi Valley beat Thousand Oaks, 4-1, in the semifinals Tuesday.
"I don't expect a high-scoring game," Silva said. "We know our defense is solid. I expect a defensive battle."
In the 3-A championship, Burbank plays Esperanza at 8 p.m. Saturday. Burbank (24-1) is ranked No. 2 in 3-A, Esperanza (24-0-2) is ranked No. 1.
The Bulldogs are led by goalie Sal Velasco, who has recorded 18 shutouts this season. They have won their last two playoff games in overtime shootouts.
Two Frontier League rivals, Agoura and Calabasas, will play for the 1-A title. Agoura (18-1-2) beat the Coyotes three times during the regular season.
"Both teams are primarily defensive teams," Calabasas Coach John Reich said. "If it's a low-scoring game, we have a chance of upsetting them. If it's high-scoring, the odds are with them."
Reich said his main concern is stopping Agoura midfielders Kevin Jauch and Grant Landy. "They're the key," he said. "They control the ball and dominate play."
Jauch and Landy, both seniors, will attend the U.S. Naval Academy next year, according to Agoura Coach Marc Berke.
Said Berke: "Calabasas plays similar to us--a passing, ball control game. It should be much closer than the previous games."
It couldn't get a whole lot closer, though. The Chargers won by scores of 2-0, 1-0 and 3-2 in overtime.
"They're balanced," Berke said. "We have to spread them out and use the whole field. But there are no secrets at this point. They know us and we know them."
After the Coyotes beat St. Bonaventure in the semifinals Tuesday, they showed up at Agoura's semifinal against Elsinore. Calabasas (16-5-3) watched Agoura win, 4-0.
The title game is scheduled for noon Saturday.
The girls 2-A final features another neighborhood rivalry--Oak Park (14-5) vs. Agoura (20-0-2).
"These girls have grown up playing with and against each other," said Agoura Coach Dave Godwin. "The schools are only three-fourths of a mile apart. So it's big. We expect almost anything.
"For us to win, we could get by with two goals. Our defense is extremely good. For them to win, they'll have to score three or four."
Earlier in the season, Agoura beat Oak Park, 4-0.
"We lost to them, so we have a score to settle," Oak Park Coach Chuck Monico said. "Our team is in a good place mentally. We have a positive attitude."
Monico said he coached six of the Agoura players five years ago at the Las Virgenes soccer club.
"The monsters I helped create are coming back to haunt me, " he said. "They have a strong bench. They've got more versatility and more speed than we do. But I'd be surprised if it's a high-scoring game."
Oak Park and Agoura play at 2 p.m. Saturday.