By Reeva Askar
The Granada Hills Charter (GHC) varsity boys soccer team made it to the CIF LA City Section playoffs this year. They played against Palisades Charter High school in the first playoff game on Wednesday February 15.
The GHC team went into the match with a 10-4-5 record, contrasted with Palisades 8-2-5 record.
GHC saw a major improvement from last year’s stats where they finished the season with a 6-9-4 record. They were even undefeated in preseason play.
The team felt confident going into the playoffs.
“Palisades’ league isn’t as strong as ours, so we have an advantage,” junior Gabriel Franco said. “We have four D-1 schools in our league, so we get the competition. Our league is the best in the city, no question. And the way we’re seeded, we don’t play those harder schools until later in the playoffs.”
One of the most impressive games this season was the team’s second match against Birmingham High School.
Birmingham is consistently ranked one of the better teams in the nation and therefore strong competition. The first time the GHC boys played Birmingham, they lost 8-0. After playing together more during the season though, they came back to tie 1-1, even being down a player.
“The team is more together this year compared to last year,” junior Diego Monreal said. “Last year we were separated more by upper and lower classmen. But now we have a much better chemistry.”
Part of the reason the team was more cohesive this year is that they placed a big focus on practice to prepare them for their games. They practice every day for an hour and a half to two hours. In these practices their main focus is to touch the ball, by either shooting on goal, dribbling, or passing.
“Drills that benefit performance during a game have to do with the ball,” Coach Jose Garcia said. “There’s no running laps. It’s all about focusing on the ball and knowing how to keep it. That is the most beneficial.”
Although the team has ranked so high this year, Captain and senior Aydan Foong Chong believes there are a few things they can work on for next season.
“One of our problems is creating chances to score during the games,” Foong Chong said. “Our coaches acknowledge this and make practices focused on the mistakes we had previously made. This has improved our defense allowing us to make a few more goals.”