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Spartans ready to reach their potential

Boys' soccer: Undefeated and No. 1-seeded La Cañada hoping for a lengthy CIF playoff run.

February 16, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

La Cañada High boys' soccer Coach Barry Ritson will be the first to say his team hasn't reached its potential yet. Hopes are that potential will be attained, now that the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs have begun.

"There's another level to this team," Ritson said. "We haven't strung together a complete performance yet this season and when we do, watch out, because not many teams can handle all the weapons we have offensively."

The Spartans, the Rio Hondo League champions and top-seeded team in their playoff bracket, have their first-round game postseason match at 3 p.m. Friday . Their opponent will be the winner of the CIF Division V wild-card game between Paloma Valley and Nogales. Looking at La Cañada's 22-0-2 record and 10-0 mark in Rio Hondo League, some might say the team can't get much better. But the players disagree.

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"We aren't playing to our potential," said Cameron Meeker, whose 55 points (20 goals and 17 assists) are second only to Matt Canatta's 57 points (20 goals and 17 assists).

La Cañada will have to make the playoff push without defender Randy Gartside, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament against South Pasadena on Feb. 4 and is out for the rest of the year.

"That's a huge loss for us, if I'm being honest," Ritson said. "Does that mean we can't win CIF? We can absolutely win CIF. One player doesn't make this team and he will be missed, but it's time for someone else to step up and I'm sure they will."

Bad memories were left with La Cañada's players and fans after last season's end. The Spartans were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the CIF Division V tournament by Salesian, which got the 1-0 win off a golden goal in overtime.

The hope is the playoffs will force La Cañada to find its second gear. The Spartans' goal this season has been to prove they're better than last year, and in proving that, advance to the semifinals or finals of the playoffs

by outplaying the opposition. Even if the Spartans' opposition can hold Meeker and Canatta in check, almost every other La Cañada player can score.

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