Throughout the regular season, the La Cañada High boys’ soccer team was ranked in the top 10 in the CIF Southern Section Division V poll. Several times, the Spartans were the top-ranked team.
Shortly after the CIF office unveiled its playoff pairings, La Cañada Coach Alex Harrison learned that the Spartans received the fourth seed after sharing the Rio Hondo League championship with second-seeded South Pasadena.
South Pasadena, by virtue of going 1-0-1 against La Cañada in a pair of season head-to-head meetings, garnered the league’s No. 1 seed. La Cañada grabbed the second spot, thus dropping to the fourth seed overall.
“All season long, we’ve been a top-10 team,” said Harrison, whose team will begin the postseason at 5 p.m. with a first-round match against visiting Marshall Fundamental. “We wanted the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and didn’t get it.
“We’ve got a good first-round matchup and it’s going to be tough. Every team is a contender in the division. We need to be able to get back to playing with more consistency.”
La Cañada went 18-3-3 in the regular season. Marshall is 16-4 after taking second in the Alpha League behind Crossroads.
“I coached a lot of their players, either at AYSO or club,” Harrison said. “So, at least I will have an idea about how they play. It’s going to be tough, but at least I know what they are capable of.”
The winner of the La Cañada-Marshall match will take on Pomona or Yucca Valley in a second-round match Feb. 20.
Flintridge Prep will travel to Firebaugh for a Division VI first-round match at 5 p.m. Friday. The Rebels are 8-8-4 after taking second in the Prep League. Firebaugh finished second in the Harbor League and is 9-6-1.
Under first-year coach AJ Yates, the Rebels enter the playoffs on an eight-match unbeaten streak (5-0-3). In that stretch, the Rebels have yielded only eight goals.
“We are not scoring a lot, but we are certainly playing great defense,” Yates said. “Things have been coming together nicely for us with this run that we’ve been on of late.
“If we can continue to play smart defensively, then we have a chance to do some good things in the playoffs.”
The winner of the Flintridge Prep-Firebaugh match will advance to take on Rubidoux or Riverside Prep in a second-round match Feb. 20.
St. Francis finished third in the ultra-competitive Mission League and will face visiting Canyon Springs, which received an at-large berth out of the Inland Valley League, in a Division I wild-card match at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Friedman Field.
St. Francis struggled down the stretch in the regular season, losing four matches in a row before finishing with a 3-0 league win against Chaminade. The Golden Knights are 7-10-5. Canyon Springs (8-8-5) finished fifth in the Inland Valley League.
St. Francis Coach Glen Appels said it’s the first time the Golden Knights will participate in a wild-card match since he took over the program in 1989.
“We are a little surprised to be playing in a wild-card game,” Appels said. “Usually, those games are between teams that get an at-large entry and finish fourth in league.
“We hope to keep things going from the Chaminade game. We like our chances Wednesday being at home. Plus, it’s a chance to gain a little more momentum.”
The winner will face fourth-seeded Palos Verdes in a first-round match at 5 p.m. Friday at Palos Verdes, which won the Bay League championship.