It’s time for East County-loaded CIF soccer playoffs to kick off

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Courtesy photo The Helix Charter High School boys soccer team will be shooting to win its second consecutive CIF championship after receiving the top seed in this season’s Division I boys field.

The timeline for Season 1 sports admittedly wasn’t the greatest. Regular season play was limited once teams were given the go-ahead from state, county and local health authorities to resume competition in the waning stages of the winter months.

Then there was a long list of safety protocols to adhere to.

As a result, postseason competition proved to be even more limited.

Cross country wrapped up after the final league dual meet took place. It was the same for football, which abrupted ended after a handful of games.

Only swimming and diving, which started after cross country stepped off its season, was able to complete a full league championship and section championship schedule.

That timeline doesn’t appear to be the same for Season 2 sports.

Teams are playing much more robust schedules than Season 1 sports and section playoffs are being planned for most, if not all, spring sports currently in competition.

Boys and girls soccer teams kick off divisional playoffs this week. A whopping 28 East County teams (15 girls and 13 boys sides) are involved, including five boys teams and three girls teams that have received either No. 1 or No. 2 seeds in their respective divisions.

Playoffs are being held at the site of the higher-seeded team through the semifinal round.

Semifinals in all girls divisions are scheduled for Tuesday, May 25, while all boys semifinal matches are scheduled for Wednesday, May 26.

Championship games are scheduled May 28-29 at Mission Bay and Eastlake high schools. Limited spectator seating is planned for the finals.

“We were determined to make this happen as we did not want teams to miss another year after we had to cancel the spring season last March,” San Diego Section Commissioner Joe Heinz said.

Getting their kicks

Top seeds include Helix Charter (Division I boys), Granite Hills (Division III boys), Christian (Division III girls) and Foothills Christian (Division V boys).

Teams seeded second in their division include Valhalla (Division II girls), Steele Canyon (Division IV boys), Liberty Charter (Division IV boys) and River Valley (Division V girls).

Helix Charter (8-2-4) will host the winner of Wednesday’s opening-round match between eighth-seeded Poway (3-8-4) and ninth-seeded San Diego (2-11-1) in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Kick-off is slated for 5 p.m.

The Highlanders finished 5-2-3 in Grossmont Hills League play – third place in the league standings behind West Hills (7-0-3 in league, 11-2-6 overall) and Valhalla (7-3 in league, 13-4-0 overall).

West Hills received the No. 8 seed in this year’s Open Division field while Valhalla received the No. 3 seed in Division II.

Top players this season for Helix include seniors Gael Torres, Jack MacIntosh and Nick Ingrande and junior D.J. Zuchelli.

“We are pleased to get the one seed and have home field advantage,” Highlanders coach Joaquin Huertero said. “We have been led by the consistent play from keeper Jack MacIntosh and midfielder Gael Torres. We haven’t had one person who has scored many goals, but we have been able to produce goals through team play.

“We have struggled this year with injuries from key players, but the important thing is that people are getting healthier by the day and just in time for our upcoming match.”

Rancho Bernardo (5-6-2) is seeded second in the division while Scripps Ranch (6-5-1) is seeded third. Southwest, the runner-up in this year’s Mesa League standings, is seeded fourth with an 8-3-4 overall record.

The championship game is scheduled May 29, at Mission Bay High School at 7:30 p.m.

Rancho Bernardo defeated Scripps Ranch in a spot-kick tiebreaker to win last year’s division title.

West Hills (11-2-6) was scheduled to meet top-seeded Cathedral Catholic (8-3-2) in Wednesday’s Open Division quarterfinals, with the winner advancing to next Tuesday’s semifinals (May 25).

The championship game is scheduled May 28 at 4:30 p.m. at Mission Bay High School.

The Wolf Pack finished runner-up to Helix in last year’s exciting Division II championship game.

Granite Hills, moving from the Grossmont Valley League to the Grossmont Hills League this season, received the No. 1 seed in the Division III boys playoffs and will kick off the playoffs in Saturday’s quarterfinals against either eighth-seeded Mt. Carmel (8-6-4) or ninth-seeded Vista (6-6-6).

The quarterfinal winner advances to the division semifinals on May 26. The championship game is scheduled May 29 at 11 a.m. at Mission Bay High School.

Granite Hills finished 0-6-4 in Grossmont Hills League play, 4-7-6 overall, in a highly competitive field in which all six teams in the league qualified for this year’s playoffs. The Eagles finished 13-8-3 last season, 8-2 in league as Grossmont Valley League champions, en route to a earning a berth in the Division III quarterfinals.

Foothills Christian (19-1-2) received the No. 1 seed in the Division V boys field and will host its quarterfinal opponent, either eighth-seeded Escondido Charter (8-5-4) or ninth-seeded Borrego Springs (1-12), on Saturday.

Semifinals are scheduled May 26, followed by the championship game May 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Eastlake High School.

Foothills Christian went undefeated (8-0) to win this year’s Ocean League title behind top scorer Jake Saffer, a senior, with 81 points on 27 goals and 27 assists. Two other players tied with 75 points on the scoresheet – junior Elijah Morr (21 goals, 33 assists) and senior Adam Barre (28 goals, 19 assists).

Sophomore Kevin Mayer ranked fourth in team scoring with 61 points (24 goals, 13 assists).

Sophomore goalkeeper Trey Clark played the bulk of minutes in the net as the Knights recorded 12 shutout wins.

The Division V boys finals could be an all-East County affair with Liberty Charter (7-3-3) receiving the No. 2 seed in the division. The Lions are scheduled to host either seventh-seeded Mount Miguel or 10th-seeded Bayfront Charter (4-8-1) in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Steele Canyon (2-6-4 overall, 2-5-3 in Grossmont Hills League play) received the No. 2 seed in the Division IV boys field and will host either seventh-seeded Kearny (7-4-3) or 10th-seeded High Tech High San Diego (6-2-2) in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Semifinals are scheduled May 26, followed by the championship final May 29 at Eastlake High School at 1:30 p.m.

One more time

Grossmont and Monte Vista engaged in a play-in game on Monday to determine the No. 12 seed in the Division II boys field. Grossmont won 3-1 to advance to Wednesday’s opening-round match at fifth-seeded Hoover (13-8-2).

The Hoover-Grossmont winner advances to Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Monte Vista (8-7-3) captured this year’s Grossmont Valley League championship with an undefeated 7-0-1 record while Grossmont (6-7-3) finished fifth in the Grossmont Hills League standings with a 1-6-3 league record.

Patrick Henry (10-3) received the top seed in the division, followed by Valhalla (13-4) at No. 3. The Norsemen received a bye to Saturday’s quarterfinals and will host the first-round winner between sixth-seeded Sage Creek and 11th-seeded La Costa Canyon (8-7-2).

Semifinals are scheduled May 26, followed by the championship game May 29 at Eastlake High School at 4:30 p.m.

Fourth-seeded Mountain Empire (11-3), sixth-seeded El Capitan (4-8-1) and seventh-seeded Mount Miguel (7-7-2) joined Foothills Christian and Liberty Charter in the Division V boys field. Mountain Empire received a bye to the quarterfinal-round while El Capitan was scheduled to host 11th-seeded Del Lago Academy (3-2-4).

River Valley (2-10) was the sixth East County team to be included in the Division V boys field. The Leopards met host Bayfront Charter in Monday’s play-in, dropping a 16-1 decision.

It’s time for East County-loaded CIF soccer playoffs to kick off