3. Saugus8-1-12 Friday’s game against Burroughs is first in 25 days. 4. Royal7-2-14 Needs to regain momentum from Buena title after two-week layoff. TeamRec.Pvs. 1. Harvard-Westlake5-1-31 Wolverines are 29-2-9 during four-year run as Mission champ. 2. El Camino Real7-1-23 Junior Ashleigh Thomas is unsung hero at Hart tournament. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson 5. Canyon7-1-35 Unbeaten in 21 Foothill games entering Friday’s opener against Burbank. 6. Westlake5-2-16 Goalkeeper Caitlin Hart still questionable following shoulder injury in December. 7. Agoura4-1-27 Tough stretch upcoming with T.O., Moorpark and Royal in next six days. 8. Flint. Sac. Hrt.11-28 Freshmen Bianca Garoian and Pip Harrigan combined for five goals, 13 assists. 9. Oaks Christian6-2-19 Important Frontier matchup Tuesday at Nordhoff. 10. Thousand Oaks4-2-310 Can play its way back into Marmonte race with win over Agoura. POTENTIAL UPSET Valencia’s girls’ soccer team clinched a Southern Section Div. II playoff spot with a thrilling 2-1 victory over Hart of Newhall last season. Although the Vikings have several underclassmen on their roster, Valencia returns a number of players from last year’s team, including goalkeeper Brooke Gauvin. Her presence gives the Vikings a chance to record a similar result when the teams meet in Friday’s league opener at Hart. Even a tie could help Valencia in its quest to return to the postseason. RANDOM NUMBER 11. Area-leading number of shutouts recorded by Sylmar goalkeeper Nicole Gonzalez. THEY SAID IT “We knew we could play with the best in the league and that’s what they showed. This is a big confidence-builder for us in this area.” – Lancaster girls’ soccer coach Rick Acuna on his team defeating defending Golden League champion Highland of Palmdale 2-0 in the championship game of the Lancaster tournament. GAME OF THE WEEK No. 4 Royal at No. 7 Agoura, Wednesday, 6 p.m.: Should the Chargers survive two tough tests against Thousand Oaks and Moorpark in the days leading up to this showdown, their Marmonte League game against the defending-champion Highlanders could be one of the most important of the first half of the season. THE FINAL HURDLE Although she’s only 17, Highland of Palmdale junior Janet Mendez has trained with and played in international exhibitions with Mexico’s women’s national soccer team. But the stakes promise to be a little higher when Mendez leaves today to take another five-hour flight to Mexico City. This time, her performance during a week-long training session could land her a spot on Mexico’s 25-player pool as the team begins its march toward securing a berth in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, scheduled for Sept. 23-Oct. 13 in China. Qualifying begins in late spring, although dates and locations have yet to be announced. The 2006 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the final qualifying tournament for the World Cup, will be held in November. “I know if I try really hard, I think I can make it,” said Mendez, who has played only half of one game with Highland because of an earlier trip to Mexico this season and a knee injury suffered Dec. 1 against Paraclete of Lancaster. “It’s been difficult because I want to be able to play with my team, but if I make the team, I think it would be my greatest accomplishment.” Mendez – who had 12 goals and 11 assists for Highland last season – earned her spot among 28 girls invited to the final tryout by playing international friendlies last summer against the United States and Canada. “(Playing in those games) was a very big thing for me because there were a lot of people out there watching,” said Mendez, who played half of both games. “My biggest motivation is to represent the country. When you have that uniform on you, it’s something different than you’ve ever experienced. It inspires you more and you feel like you can do anything.” If Mendez is selected, she’ll be with the team until Jan. 27. If she doesn’t make the cut for the final 25, she’ll return approximately Jan. 14. “I met with the girls after practice Monday and told them to just get used to playing without her,” Highland coach Juan Paolo said. “I told them that we are a very good team and capable of repeating (as Golden League champion) without her, and that if she does come back, we’ll be that much better with her in there.” LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE As of Sunday, more than a dozen area girls’ soccer standouts had given verbal commitments to Division I universities and will be signing national letters of intent in February. Only one – Bree Thornton of L.A. Baptist in North Hills – will be doing so while not playing high school soccer during her senior year. Thornton, who has committed to Missouri, elected not to compete this season after suffering a torn right ACL during a club soccer tournament last April. Thornton, who received All-Southern Section and All-Area honors during her junior season, made a strong recovery following reconstructive surgery but decided not to rejoin the Knights during the winter campaign. “We thought it prudent to hold her out of high school competition this season,” said Ernie Thornton, Bree’s father. Although she missed out on an opportunity to compete on the state Olympic Development Program team, Thornton is excited about returning to her under-17 club team, the So Cal Blues, in March, with the goal of winning a national championship during the summer. “She is just looking forward now and not worrying about things she can’t change,” Ernie Thornton said. “We believe everything happens for a reason.” Thornton, an honors student at L.A. Baptist, chose Missouri over UC Santa Barbara, Boston University and the University of Denver, her father’s alma mater. GOING STREAKING Several area teams brought league unbeaten streaks of at least 10 games into this season, with Harvard-Westlake of Studio City and Highland of Palmdale having the first chance to add to their runs when they opened Mission and Golden play Wednesday night. Harvard-Westlake, the four-time Mission champion, entered Wednesday’s contest against Louisville of Woodland Hills with a 16-game league unbeaten streak. Highland, the defending Golden champion, was riding a 10-game winning streak in league entering its opener against Antelope Valley. The area’s two longest league unbeaten streaks will be put to the test in the next week, with Canyon of Canyon Country – a four-time champion in the Foothill League – putting a 21-game run on the line when it plays host to Burbank on Friday in its opener. Oaks Christian, which is 22-0-2 all-time in Frontier League play, travels to rival Nordhoff of Ojai in its opener on Tuesday. Competition in the City Section leagues begins next week, with North Hollywood putting a 10-game winning streak on the line in Sunset Six play Monday against visiting Verdugo Hills of Tujunga. Monroe of North Hills enters Wednesday’s Valley Mission opener at Van Nuys with a 10-game unbeaten streak. El Camino Real of Woodland Hills, which had a 21-game overall unbeaten streak snapped earlier this season against Mater Dei of Santa Ana, is 9-0-1 in its past 10 West Valley League matches entering Tuesday’s opener at rival Chatsworth. TAKE TWO As tournament director Ray Tippet grabbed the championship trophy for the annual Hart of Newhall tournament and looked toward El Camino Real of Woodland Hills’ players and coaches, he jokingly mentioned that he was tired of giving the award to the Conquistadores. That’s because for the third time in four years, ECR won the Hart tournament – defeating the Indians 4-2 – becoming the first team in more than a decade to win back-to-back titles. The Indians last won their own tournament in 1998. Despite the graduation of four-year varsity players Nikki Walberg and Ashley Zwoyer and although they’re relying on freshmen Chelsea Forte, Sasha Scott and Jessica Stadheim to anchor their back line on defense, this year’s ECR team has already shown signs that it might be better than the one that defeated Palisades of Pacific Palisades 4-0 in last year’s City final. “They have a great attitude. They want to win and they go out there to win every time they step on the field,” said Conquistadores coach Shanna Sarris, whose team is bidding for its City-record sixth consecutive title. “And if they continue to play like this, they’ll accomplish that.” LEAGUE UPDATES Foothill: Friday marks the beginning of the farewell tour for Burbank and Burroughs of Burbank, who is headed to the Pacific League next season. Burbank plays at Canyon and Saugus plays at Burroughs. The most important game of the day matches Valencia at Hart at 3:15 p.m. Golden: In the first three days of the league schedule, two games should have important playoff implications. Knight of Palmdale played at Lancaster on Wednesday night and Highland of Palmdale plays host to rival Quartz Hill at 6 p.m. Friday. Highland defeated Quartz Hill 1-0 last season for its first victory over the Rebels since 1997, snapping a 15-game winless stretch in the series. Marmonte: Agoura, which recorded an impressive 3-0 victory against host Thousand Oaks before the holiday break, will have an opportunity to sweep the season series against the Lancers when the teams meet at 6 p.m. Friday. Agoura, considered among the favorites to win the league title, also has to play Moorpark on Monday and Royal of Simi Valley on Wednesday in one of the most important stretches of its season. Agoura, Moorpark and Westlake entered January as the three teams without a loss in league play, although the Warriors appear to have the most upside with junior Kate Edwards making her season debut Jan. 11 against Newbury Park. Mission: Because of the Rose Bowl game, Flintridge Sacred Heart of La Canada Flintridge and Alemany of Mission Hills agreed to move their match, originally scheduled for Wednesday, to Feb. 6. The Tologs are also playing Friday’s game against visiting Chaminade of West Hills at St. Francis High in La Canada Flintridge at 3:15 p.m., instead of 5 p.m., in order to accommodate co-coach Frank Pace, who has another commitment later that night. Sunset Six: North Hollywood, which went undefeated in league last season and advanced to the second round of the City playoffs before losing to Taft of Woodland Hills 1-0, appears to be the clear favorite after compiling a 12-2-3 record during nonleague play. Alma Guardado, Xiomara Martinez, Maricela Quintanilla and freshman Franchesca Vasquez have led the Huskies this season. Valley Mission: After having its 15-game unbeaten streak snapped by Victor Valley on Dec. 27, Sylmar (12-1-5) rebounded with convincing victories over Garey of Pomona and Brethren Christian of Huntington Beach in the Lancaster tournament to enter January as one of the favorites to challenge Monroe of North Hills for the league title. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!