Valencia dominates El Dorado, claims North O.C. Classic title


After the final whistle blew Wednesday, Valencia boys soccer coach Barry Gardner sprinted to the Tigers’ bench and emptied two coolers. It was a preemptive strike to squash a sneak attack the team’s players were about to unleash on him.

It was too chilly to get drenched with ice water, but he forgot about some water bottles, and his players took aim at him as they celebrated winning the North Orange County Classic championship for the third time in the past eight seasons.

This time, fifth-ranked Valencia dominated the competition, defeating El Dorado, 3-0, in the championship match.

The Tigers (11-0) shut out four of their five opponents in the tournament, and gave up one goal during that span.

“We work really well out of the back,” Gardner said. “We are usually decent defensively, but this year we are solid. Our defenders are good, our midfielders work hard to end it in the middle, and our forwards end it up top.”

The Golden Hawks (4-8-0) had one good look at the goal, which came when Cole Smith entered the box alone in the 20th minute. AJ Acrilla made the save for Valencia, and one minute later, Valencia was on top, 1-0. Noah Engstrom knocked in a pass from Victor Ortiz, who also provided the assist on Jordan Viveros’ goal that extended the Tigers’ lead to 3-0 in the 66th minute.

“They have talent all over the place,” El Dorado coach Steve McManus said. “Every time it looked like we would do something, they scored.”

Devin Cornejo added a goal for the Tigers, with an assist from Nick Diaz, in the 57th minute.

“This was our big focus. Have a big win each day and take it to the final game,” Gardner said. “It worked out good.”

In other boys soccer:

In the South Orange County Classic:

No. 2 El Toro 0, Santa Margarita 0 (El Toro wins on PKs, 4-2): Mac Hutchins stopped the Eagles’ first two penalty kicks during the championship match at Mission Viejo. Henry Alvarez, Brandon Pariso, Jonathan Bryant and Daniel Parker converted on their penalty chances for the Chargers

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